Share – Kiểu ăn “nhà nghèo” đẩy lùi cái chết do bệnh tim mạch — Banmaihong’s Blog

Nghiên cứu mới từ Na Uy phát hiện một kiểu ăn nhà nghèo đem lại vô số lợi ích sức khỏe, thậm chí cứu sống người bệnh tim mạch thông qua tác động trung gian lên đường ruột. Thêm chất xơ, giảm thịt tốt cho vi khuẩn đường ruột của bạn và từ đó tốt […]

via Kiểu ăn “nhà nghèo” đẩy lùi cái chết do bệnh tim mạch — Banmaihong’s Blog

Nghiên cứu mới từ Na Uy phát hiện một kiểu ăn nhà nghèo đem lại vô số lợi ích sức khỏe, thậm chí cứu sống người bệnh tim mạch thông qua tác động trung gian lên đường ruột.

Kiểu ăn "nhà nghèo" đẩy lùi cái chết do bệnh tim mạch
Thêm chất xơ, giảm thịt tốt cho vi khuẩn đường ruột của bạn và từ đó tốt cho cả hệ tim mạch. (Ảnh minh họa)

Một công trình vừa được trình bày tại Heart Failure 2019 – Đại hội khoa học của Hiệp hộp Tim mạch Châu Âu cho thấy ăn đơn giản hơn một chút có thể cứu mạng bạn. Khác với những nghiên cứu cho thấy kiểu ăn thiếu lành mạnh có thể trực tiếp làm suy yếu hệ thống tim mạch, công trình của Bệnh viện Đại học Oslo (Na Uy) tìm thấy một con đường khác có điểm trung gian là hệ vi khuẩn trong ruột bạn. Nói cách khác, những kiểu ăn khiến bạn gặp rắc rối về tiêu hóa cũng có thể ảnh hưởng lên trái tim bạn.

“Chúng tôi tìm thấy một con đường kết nối chế độ ăn uống – hoạt động của vi khuẩn trong ruột – bệnh tim mạch”, tiến sĩ Cristiane Mayerhofer, trưởng nhóm nghiên cứu cho biết.

Cụ thể, chế độ ăn giàu chất xơ, giảm thịt không chỉ tốt cho ruột của bạn mà còn đem lại lợi ích lên hệ tim mạch. Với bệnh nhân suy tim – vấn đề tim mạch phổ biến ở người trên 65 tuổi và có thể sớm hơn nếu bạn thiếu kiểm soát các tình trạng như cao huyết áp, cholesterol cao… – kiểu ăn này thậm chí có thể đẩy lùi các biến cố gây tử vong như đột quỵ, hay khiến bệnh nặng đến mức phải ghép tim hoặc chết.

Nhóm nghiên cứu cho biết trước đây, họ từng công bố một công trình chứng minh mối liên quan giữa sự giảm đa dạng sinh học của hệ vi khuẩn đường ruột với bệnh suy tim. Trong nghiên cứu mới, họ lại tiếp tục tìm thấy nguyên nhân sâu xa khiến hệ vi khuẩn bị suy yếu: Chế độ ăn ít chất xơ.

Kết quả được rút ra từ việc giải trình tự gene 16S rRNA của vi khuẩn trong mẫu phân của 350 tình nguyện viên, bao gồm một số bệnh nhân suy tim và một số người khỏe mạnh để đối chứng.

Ngoài ra, các nhà khoa học còn phát hiện mức độ cao củatrimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) ở nhiều bệnh nhân suy tim. Chính TMAO gia tăng làm tăng nguy cơ tai biến, tử vong sớm do tác động trực tiếp đến nhóm vi khuẩn đóng vai trò chủ chốt trong những biến cố tim mạch. “Sẽ là khôn ngoan cho bệnh nhân suy tim nếu họ hạn chế lượng thịt tiêu thụ xuống 2-3 lần mức thông thường”, tiến sĩ Mayerhofer nói.

Tin vui là chất xơ thường rất dễ tìm kiếm và có giá rẻ hơn những đĩa thịt ngon lành nhiều: Ngũ cốc (nhất là ngũ cốc nguyên hạt), hầu hết rau, củ, trái cây…

Theo Người Lao Động

Share – Resort bò sữa organic Việt – Lào – Nhật trên cao nguyên Xiêng Khoảng – VnExpress — Banmaihong’s Blog

Những ngày cuối tháng 5 trên vùng đất cao nguyên Xiêng Khoảng trở nên rộn rã, hồ hởi hơn với một sự kiện đặc biệt. Lần đầu tiên, mảnh đất vùng cao này đón chào những vị lãnh đạo cấp cao, đại diện nhiều doanh nghiệp hàng đầu của cả Lào, Việt Nam và […]

via Resort bò sữa organic Việt – Lào – Nhật trên cao nguyên Xiêng Khoảng – VnExpress — Banmaihong’s Blog

Những ngày cuối tháng 5 trên vùng đất cao nguyên Xiêng Khoảng trở nên rộn rã, hồ hởi hơn với một sự kiện đặc biệt. Lần đầu tiên, mảnh đất vùng cao này đón chào những vị lãnh đạo cấp cao, đại diện nhiều doanh nghiệp hàng đầu của cả Lào, Việt Nam và Nhật Bản. Một đại dự án trang trại bò sữa organic của Lao-Jagro – một công ty liên doanh của Vinamilk – với quy mô 5000ha, hứa hẹn sẽ thay đổi hoàn toàn cuộc sống nơi đây.

Người nông dân Xiêng Khoảng từ lâu gắn bó với nghề chăn nuôi bò truyền thống, tuy nhiên, mỗi hộ chỉ khoảng 10 con, cả tỉnh chỉ có khoảng 8 trang trại quy mô nhỏ lẻ.

“Tổ hợp trang trại bò sữa công nghệ cao sắp tới của Vinamilk sẽ là dự án công nghệ cao có quy mô và mức đầu tư lớn nhất từ trước tới nay tại tỉnh”, Bí thư, Tỉnh trưởng tỉnh Xiêng Khoảng Bountone Chanthaphone không giấu được niềm vui. “Dự án khi đi vào vận hành sẽ hỗ trợ người nông dân chăn nuôi gia súc phát triển kinh tế gia đình, vượt nghèo và có nguồn thu bền vững”, ông nói.

“Thông qua việc đầu tư trang trại quy mô lớn tại nước láng giềng Đông Nam Á, dưới hình thức liên doanh đa quốc gia với Lào, Nhật Bản, Vinamilk đã tận dụng được thế mạnh của từng quốc gia để đạt được hiệu quả đầu tư cao nhất”, ông Tống Xuân Chinh, Phó cục trưởng Cục Chăn nuôi, Bộ Nông nghiệp và Phát triển nông thôn đánh giá về dự án.

Ông khẳng định, với hệ thống 13 nhà máy và 12 trang trại trên khắp cả nước, sở hữu công nghệ và các tiêu chuẩn sữa hữu cơ USDA của Mỹ, châu Âu, Vinamilk cho thấy trình độ công nghiệp hóa của ngành chăn nuôi bò sữa và chế biến sữa của Việt Nam đã đạt tới đẳng cấp quốc tế. “Đây là những tiêu chuẩn rất khó đạt, phải là các doanh nghiệp lớn có hệ thống đầu tư bài bản, khép kín chuỗi giá trị mới có thể làm được”, ông Chinh khẳng định.

Trong tiếng Lào, Xiêng Khoảng có nghĩa là “thành phố phía chân trời”. Vùng cao nguyên thuộc Bắc Lào được xem như là điểm giao thoa của đất và trời khi nằm trên độ cao 1.200 mét so với mực nước biển. Con đường uốn lượn dẫn vào miền đất cao nguyên của xứ sở triệu voi như lọt thỏm giữa rừng cây và những cánh đồng cỏ xanh ngút tầm mắt, trải rộng hai bên.

Cao nguyên Xiêng Khoảng được nhiều chuyên gia trong ngành ví như miền đất thiên thời, địa lợi, không thua kém “thiên đường” bò sữa New Zealand. Thiên nhiên trong lành, thuần khiết, theo các chuyên gia, sẽ giúp những “cô bò” có tâm lý vui vẻ, thoải mái, phát triển khỏe mạnh, cho ra dòng sữa thơm ngon, dinh dưỡng với chất lượng cao.

Đồng cỏ 5.000 hecta trải dài là nơi đàn bò tự do vui chơi, nhởn nha “hít khí trời”. Những bình nguyên rộng lớn hút tầm mắt, đây đó là cánh đồng yến mạch, cỏ, bắp đem đến nguồn thức ăn có sẵn, giàu dinh dưỡng và hoàn toàn không hóa chất.

Tiến sĩ Imori Daiji – Tổng giám đốc Lao-Jagro, người đã quyết định rời Nhật Bản để đến sống tại Xiêng Kƒhoảng chia sẻ rằng từ lần đầu tiên đến vào năm 2015, ông đã biết nơi đây sẽ là một thiên đường cho bò sữa. “Bạn có thể cảm nhận được hương thơm đặc trưng của đồng cỏ yến mạch làm thức ăn cho những cô bò sữa organic. Còn kia là con đường đã được trồng hoa anh đào dọc hai bên. Hy vọng vào mùa xuân tới khi ‘resort’ khánh thành, con đường sẽ rợp bóng anh đào…, các khu nhà cho nhân viên mọc lên. Tất cả sẽ mang đến một diện mạo mới cho vùng đất này”.

Trên cơ sở hợp tác giữa doanh nghiệp sữa hàng đầu Việt Nam với doanh nghiệp Lào và Nhật Bản, Công ty Lao-Jagro được hình thành để xây dựng tổ hợp “resort” bò sữa organic tại Xiêng Khoảng. Dự án này hội tụ những thế mạnh vốn có của ba bên trong việc phát triển nông nghiệp công nghệ cao, chăn nuôi bò sữa organic với quy mô lớn.Tại dự án này, Lào đóng vai trò trung tâm tiếp nhận đầu tư và cung cấp quỹ đất để hình thành các tổ hợp trang trại quy mô siêu lớn.


Tiến sĩ Imori Daiji –Tổng giám đốc Công ty Lao-Jagro

Còn Vinamilk là nhà đầu tư chính với nguồn lực tài chính dồi dào, có kinh nghiệm về xây dựng ngành chăn nuôi bò sữa tại vùng khí hậu nhiệt đới. Nhật Bản đóng vai trò cung cấp nguồn Gen quý hiếm, cung cấp thiết bị, công nghệ, các bí quyết trong ngành chăn nuôi gia súc và quản trị chất lượng theo các tiêu chuẩn cao nhất của Nhật Bản.

“Thời chiến tranh, cao nguyên Xiêng Khoảng là một biểu tượng cao đẹp cho tình đoàn kết Việt Lào anh em. Giờ đây, với sự tham gia của Vinamilk trong dự án xây dựng Tổ hợp “Resort” bò sữa Organic của Lao-Jagro, tôi hy vọng Xiêng Khoảng sẽ còn là biểu tượng cho sự hợp tác kinh tế đa phương trên nhiều lĩnh vực của 3 nước Lào, Việt Nam và Nhật Bản”, bà Mai Kiều Liên – Tổng giám đốc Vinamilk chia sẻ.

Là hợp tác giữa doanh nghiệp sữa hàng đầu Việt Nam với liên doanh Lào – Nhật Lao-Jagro, dự án “Resort” bò sữa Organic còn mang nhiều ý nghĩa đặc biệt ngoài mục tiêu kinh tế. Đây biểu trưng của hợp tác hữu nghị giữa Việt Nam, Lào và Nhật Bản, cùng học hỏi, hỗ trợ, hướng đến mục tiêu hình thành vùng nguyên liệu sữa tươi organic chuẩn quốc tế, phát triển ngành chăn nuôi bò sữa công nghệ cao bền vững.

Đầu năm 2017, trang trại bò sữa organic đạt chuẩn châu Âu đầu tiên tại Việt Nam của Vinamilk khánh thành. Những dòng sữa tươi 100% organic tiêu chuẩn EU đầu tiên đến tay người tiêu dùng Việt.

Và việc đầu tư xây dựng Tổ hợp “Resort” bò sữa Organic tại Lào nằm trong chiến lược dài hạn của Vinamilk về phát triển vùng nguyên liệu sữa tươi cả trong và ngoài nước, nhất là nguồn nguyên liệu sữa tươi organic để đáp ứng cho nhu cầu tiêu dùng ngày càng gia tăng. Khi hoàn thành vào năm 2020-2021, tổ hợp trang trại bò sữa tại Lào này sẽ là nguồn cung cấp sữa tươi nguyên liệu organic theo chuẩn châu Âu, Mỹ và Nhật Bản cho Lào, Việt Nam và xuất khẩu đi các nước trên thế giới. Với quy mô đầu tư và quỹ đất rộng lớn, dự án kỳ vọng sẽ đưa Xiêng Khoảng trở thành thủ phủ về bò sữa của khu vực Đông Nam Á.

Những kinh nghiệm vận hành 12 trang trại xây dựng theo chuẩn Global G.A.P và tiêu chuẩn Organic Châu Âu của Vinamilk tại Việt Nam sẽ tiếp tục được áp dụng tại dự án mới, đảm bảo chất lượng nguồn sữa tươi organic theo chuẩn 3 không: không hormone tăng trưởng, không dư lượng kháng sinh, không thuốc trừ sâu.

“Với các tiêu chuẩn mà Resort này đang áp dụng, sản phẩm sữa Organic từ đây có thể xuất khẩu đi các nước khó tính nhất trên thế giới, bao gồm Nhật Bản”, Tiến sĩ Imori Daiji, Tổng giám đốc Công ty Lao-Jagro nói.

Vinamilk với tâm thế tiên phong, tiếp tục hành trình nâng tầm sữa Việt bước ra thị trường thế giới. Hiện những sản phẩm sữa của Vinamilk đã có mặt tại 50 quốc gia và vùng lãnh thổ, tổng kim ngạch xuất khẩu đạt khoảng 2 tỷ USD tính từ năm 1997 đến nay.

Hệ thống 12 trang trại Vinamilk trải dọc cả nước, trong đó có hệ thống 10 trang trại Global G.A.P lớn nhất Châu Á, 2 trang trại được xây dựng theo tiêu chuẩn Organic Châu Âu đã đem đến diện mạo mới cho ngành chăn nuôi cũng như đời sống kinh tế – xã hội của người nông dân Việt Nam.

Với dự án resort bò sữa tại Lào, Vinamilk cho biết sẽ tiếp tục mở rộng thêm quy mô các cụm trang trại bò sữa công nghệ cao, xây dựng nhà máy sản xuất, chế biến các sản phẩm sữa tại Lào. Tại đây, chuỗi sản xuất, cung ứng toàn diện được hình thành, đưa các sản phẩm sữa chất lượng quốc tế tại Lào và xuất khẩu đi các nước tại ASEAN, Đông Bắc Á và các khu vực khác trên thế giới, hướng tới mục tiêu trở thành “Top 30 công ty sữa lớn nhất thế giới về doanh thu” của Vinamilk.

Ngoài đầu tư, sở hữu các nhà máy tại Mỹ, Campuchia, Vinamilk, New Zealand và công ty con tại Ba Lan, Vinamilk cho biết vẫn tiếp tục khảo sát và xem xét việc đầu tư tại các nước thuộc khu vực Đông Nam Á như Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar…, từng bước hiện thực hóa mục tiêu đưa thương hiệu sữa Việt vươn tầm thế giới.

Theo VnExpress 

Share – Hoàng Hạc Lầu – Đông Thiên Triết — thân tri

Trong quyển Đường Thi Tam Bách Thủ (ba trăm bài thơ “chọn lọc” thời thịnh Đường) thấy ghi lại như sau: Hoàng Hạc Lầu là một bài thơ tuyệt tác của đại thi hào Thôi Hiệu (có người gọi là Thôi Hạc). Bài thơ này, vì vào thời buổi đó, […]

via Hoàng Hạc Lầu – Đông Thiên Triết — thân tri

Trong quyển Đường Thi Tam Bách Thủ (ba trăm bài thơ “chọn lọc” thời thịnh Đường) thấy ghi lại như sau: Hoàng Hạc Lầu là một bài thơ tuyệt tác của đại thi hào Thôi Hiệu (có người gọi là Thôi Hạc). Bài thơ này, vì vào thời buổi đó, chưa có thơ Đường Luật, nên làm theo lối cổ phong và do chính thi hào sáng tác và đã để lại trên vách tường của căn gác hoang, đó là lầu Hoàng Hạc. Nguyên lầu này tọa lạc tại hướng Tây Bắc, thành Vũ Xương, ngày nay thuộc tỉnh Hồ Bắc, Trung Hoa. Do đó người ta gọi là Hoàng Hạc Lầu.

     Tương truyền rằng: Xưa kia có một vị tiên ông, tên là Phí Văn Vi, sau khi tu đắc đạo thành Tiên, Ngài thường cỡi con hạc màu vàng, rồi bay đến căn lầu hoang vắng này để nghỉ ngơi, cùng lúc ấy, Phí tiên ông cũng thường ngâm vịnh, hay cầm kỳ thi họa cùng các vị tao nhân mặc khách thường lai vãng đến lầu này.

Tích nhân dĩ thừa hoàng hạc khứ,
Thử địa không du, Hoàng Hạc Lâu .
Hoàng hạc nhất khứ bất phục phản,
Bạch vân thiên tải không du du

     Những cuộc tao phùng nào mà không có buổi chia ly ?, Phí tiên ông cũng không ngoại lệ, thế cho nên trong các buổi cầm kỳ thi họa cùng các vị tao nhân kia được ít lâu, thì bỗng một hôm, Phí Văn Vi đột nhiên cỡi con hạc vàng bay đến một phương trời xa thẳm y như những lần trước, nhưng chuyến cỡi hạc ra đi lần cuối cùng này, Phí tiên ông không bao giờ trở lại phàm trần nữa để tiếp tục đối ẩm, cầm kỳ thi họa cùng các tao nhân mặc khách của Ngài. Nhưng Phí Vi tiên ông nào có ngờ đâu, sự ra đi vĩnh viễn của Ngài, đã để lại đằng sau lưng mình, còn có các vị mặc khách tao nhân kia, mà ở nơi họ, là cả một sự mỏi mòn vì mãi mê chờ đợi bạn tri âm trong tuyệt vọng. Mãi cho đến một ngày kia, tất cả các vị tao nhân này cũng đều phải ra đi vĩnh viễn trong cát bụi, trong hư vô, theo định luật: Thành Thịnh, Suy, Hủy của càn khôn vũ trụ. (Tục truyền rằng Ngài Phí Văn Vi đã cỡi hạc về cảnh tiên giới để tiếp tục đường tu hành), Vì vậy người ta gọi căn lầu hoang vắng kia là Hoàng Hạc Lầu. (Di tích lịch sử này, hiện vẫn còn tọa lạc tại tỉnh Hồ Bắc, TH).

     Thời gian sau, nhân một chuyến du ngoạn, lúc thi hào Thôi Hiệu đi ngang qua căn lầu hoang vắng này, tiện ghé vào lầu để nghỉ ngơi, thì được nghe kể lại sự tích trên, rồi Ngài dõi mắt nhìn quang cảnh lầu hoang bụi bám, tơ nhện giăng đầy khắp nơi, nhưng người xưa thì nay đà khuất bóng, chỉ còn trơ lại thực tại ngôi lầu hoang vắng, cũ kỹ, nằm trên một triền đồi hẻo lánh, trong khung cảnh âm u của núi rừng sâu thẩm. Nhưng đối với hồn thơ đa sầu, những dạt dào cảm ái của thi hào Thôi Hiệu, thì đó chính là tụ điểm của một bức tranh xuân sơn thủy lục, được tô điểm qua sắc thái dưới bóng một buổi chiều tà, có ánh ngà hoàng hôn vừa buông sụp, mà ngay khi ấy, tức thì bức màn đêm cũng chừng như sắp sửa buông phủ, để sẵn sàng đè lên những sợi nắng hồng nhạt của buổi hoàng hôn trong cô tịch.

      Nếu trông về quang cảnh trước mắt từ phía đằng xa, thì thấy hiển hiện lên những dợn khói sóng trên mặt sông Trường Giang, đang mập mờ tung tóe, bay nhảy trên mặt nước, như đang đùa giởn với bức màn sương dầy đặc, chẳng khác nào như tự nó cố tình muốn che khuất lối đi nẻo về của người lữ khách đường xa, thì thử hỏi, mấy ai mà tránh khỏi cái cảm giác xa quê hương, để rồi ôm trong lòng nỗi xót xa dùm cho người lữ khách đó ?, nhất là đối với tâm hồn thi nhân, thì tránh sao khỏi cảm xúc bởi nỗi niềm riêng lai láng trổi dậy trong hồn thơ của họ.

Hoàng hạc nhất khứ bất phục phản,
Bạch vân thiên tải không du du .
Tình xuyên lịch lịch Hán Dương thụ
Phương thảo thê thê Anh Vũ châu.
Nhật mộ hương quan hà xứ thị ?
Yên ba giang thượng sử nhân sầu !

     Cảnh trí xuân sơn thủy tú này, được lồng trong sáu câu thơ trên đây, đã tô điểm thành một bức tranh sống động mà khiến cho người sáng tác tranh thơ này, khi ngâm nga lên, cũng phải liên tưởng đến hình ảnh cha mẹ, anh em, thân bằng quyến thuộc, đang ở quê nhà mà hiện giờ này, họ đang trông đợi mình chăng?. Cho nên nó đã trở thành động lực thúc giục Ngài, làm nôn nóng sự nẩy sanh định ý trở về quê hương ngay trong đêm hôm ấy. Nhưng nếu với hoàn cảnh này, hành trình về quê là đoạn đường xa thăm thẳm, bởi phải trải qua các cửa thành Hán Dương, rồi lại phải băng qua bãi Anh Vũ châu, thì mới đặt chân đến chốn ấy được. Nhưng hiện giờ, đường xá quan san diệu vợi, hơn nữa, sương mù, sông núi và mây ngàn còn đang áng ngữ, đó chính là những chướng ngại vật trước mắt, cản bước cuộc hành trình, thì biết đến bao giờ Ngài mới phản hồi cố quốc được ?

      Cảm xúc bởi quê hương, quyến thuộc, tình thân, đang len lén xâm nhập vào hồn thơ, nên khiến ngọn bút thần của Ngài tức cảnh mà thi thố thần oai, như phụng múa rồng bay, bằng tám câu thơ trên vách tường, duy chỉ vỏn vẹn 8 Câu Thần, mà đã phát họa nên một bức gấm dệt, hoa thêu, với những nét đặc sắc của một bức tranh trước lầu Hoàng Hạc, cùng đệm lên những khúc điệu lồng trong tâm sự của chính Ngài. Với bút pháp tuyệt kỹ, tạc thành những dòng thơ tuyệt tác, làm thương cảm người đọc, làm xúc động triệu triệu con tim từ thuở ấy cho đến hôm nay. Và kể từ dạo đó về sau, bài thơ mới bắt đầu được ghi chép lại và truyền tụng khắp dân gian, đó là bài Hoàng Hạc Lâu như vừa đang kể .

     Về tiểu sử của thi hào Thôi Hiệu, ông sanh vào năm nào thì không ai biết, nhưng chỉ biết ông mất vào năm 754, (Ông mất trước thi hào Lý Bạch 8 năm) ông người huyện Biện Châu, nay là tỉnh Hà Nam, Huyện Khai Phong (T.H). Ông đỗ Tiến Sĩ vào năm Khai Nguyên thứ 11, và làm quan đến chức Thượng Thư Tư Huân Viên Ngoại Lang. Thuở nhỏ bản chất thông minh, bắt đầu làm thơ từ tuổi thiếu thời, văn thơ lỗi lạc, nên được người đời gọi ông là: “Niên Thiếu Vi Thư, Danh Thao Khinh Bạt” (Tuổi trẻ giỏi văn thơ, tiếng tâm thật lẫy lừng).

      Một thời gian sau, khi thi hào Lý Thái Bạch, nhân một hôm đi du ngoạn, cũng có ghé thăm viếng lầu Hoàng Hạc, và Ngài cũng có đọc qua bài thơ của thi hào Thôi Hiệu, với những bút tích vẫn còn y nguyên trên vách tường lầu, khi đọc xong bài thơ, Lý Trích Tiên không tiếc lời khen ngợi thiên tài của thi hào Thôi Hiệu, cho nên Ngài liền thốt ra câu :

Nhãn tiền hữu cảnh, đạo bất đắc,
Thôi Hiệu đề thi, tại thượng đầu .

眼 前 有 景 道 不 得,
蓷 顥 題 詩 在 上 頭。

      (nghĩa là trước mắt có cảnh, mà ta không thốt nên lời thơ đặng, vì đã có bài thơ của Thôi Hiệu ở trên vách lầu này rồi). Đó chẳng qua là Lý Trích Tiên tỏ ý nhún nhường chăng? hay để tỏ lòng kính ngưỡng thiên tài thi phú của thi hào Thôi Hiệu?, vì thế mà Ngài Trích Tiên không dùng thần bút của mình để phát họa bức tranh thơ tại lầu này, Ngài bèn đến một nơi khác, nơi đó cũng có một ngôi lầu, quang cảnh cũng tương tự như Phụng Hoàng lầu nơi đây, đoạn Ngài làm ra một bài thơ khác, bài thơ ấy được gọi là: Đăng Kim Lăng Phụng Hoàng Đài .

     Có sách ghi lại rằng, Lý Trích Tiên đã dựa trong ý thơ của bài Hoàng Hạc Lầu mà làm thành bài: Đăng Kim Lăng Phụng Hoàng Đài, (vì bài thơ của Ngài, có những ý thơ tương tợ lầu Hoàng Hạc)

      Dưới đây là nguyên bản của 2 bài thơ Hoàng Hạc Lâu và Đăng Kim Lăng Phụng Hoàng Đài của thi hào Thôi Hiệu và Lý Thái Bạch, qua sự chuyển ngữ của Đông Thiên Triết.

Nguyên tác bài Hoàng Hạc Lâu của thi hào Thôi Hiệu:

Tích nhân dĩ thừa, hoàng hạc khứ,
Thử địa không du, Hoàng Hạc Lâu .
Hoàng hạc nhất khứ, bất phục phản,
Bạch vân thiên tải, không du du .
Tình xuyên lịch lịch, Hán Dương thụ,
Phương thảo thê thê, Anh Vũ châu .
Nhật mộ hương quan, hà xứ thị?
Yên ba giang thượng, sử nhân sầu!

黃鶴樓

昔人已乘黃鶴去,
此地空餘黃鶴樓。
黃鶴一去不復返,
白雲千載空悠悠。
晴川歷歷漢陽樹,
芳草萋萋鸚鵡洲。
日暮鄉關何處是,
煙波江上使人愁。

崔顥

Chuyển ngữ theo thể Đường Luật của Đông Thiên Triết:

Người xưa đã cưỡi hạc về đâu?
Hoàng Hạc Lâu, nay vắng bạn bầu
Một rẽ, hạc vàng biền biệt bóng,
Ngàn treo, mây trắng lửng lơ lầu .
Dòng sông lạnh, dặc dầy Dương thụ,
Thảm cỏ xanh, man mác Vũ châu.
Đâu ngõ quê hương, chiều sụp tối?
Trường Giang khói sóng, khiến ta sầu!

Nguyên tác bài Đăng Kim Lăng Phụng Hoàng Đài của thi hào Lý Thái Bạch:

Phụng hoàng đài thượng phụng hoàng du,
Phụng khứ, đài không, giang tự lưu.
Ngô cung, hoa thảo, mãi u kính,
Tấn đại, y quan, thành cổ khưu.
Tam sơn bán lạc, thanh thiên ngoại,
Nhị thủy trung phân, bạch vũ châu.
Tổng vị phù vân năng tỵ nhật,
Trường An bất kiến, sử nhân sầu.

登金陵鳳凰台

鳳凰台上鳳凰游,
鳳去台空江自流。
吳宮花草埋幽徑,
晉代衣冠成古邱。
三山半落青天外,
二水中分白鷺洲。
總為浮雲能蔽日,
長安不見使人愁。

李白

Chuyển ngữ theo thể Đường Luật
của Đông Thiên Triết:

Phụng hoàng chắp cánh đã bay đâu?
Phụng vắng lầu hoang, sông chảy sầu
Hoa cỏ rường Ngô vùi nẻo thẳm,
Mão y nếp Tấn lấp đường sâu.
Trời xanh ba núi in trong bóng,
Nước bạc hai ngòi rẽ giữa châu .
Mây phủ giăng tầng che bóng ác,
Trường An mờ khuất, dạ thêm rầu

Ngày nay, những đứa con của Mẹ Việt Nam đang lưu lạc khắp nơi trên thế giới, thử hỏi có mấy ai mà chẳng thương nhớ đến quê cha đất tổ của mình? vậy tại sao chúng ta không thông cảm mà cùng nhau chia sẻ nỗi sầu trên đây với thi hào Thôi Hiệu? Hay chúng ta thử có ý định đem so sánh cái tâm trạng hôm nay của chính mình, cùng với nỗi sầu trên lầu Hoàng Hạc của thi hào Thôi Hiệu thuở xa xưa xem sao? Vậy thì nỗi sầu vong quốc của chúng ta hiện nay, chắc hẳn gấp vạn lần so với nỗi sầu của thi hào Thôi Hiệu, đã được Ngài gánh đổ mối sầu ấy, tạc nên những vần thơ trên vách lầu Hoàng Hạc này mãi mãi đến ngàn thu.

Tuy nhiên, nỗi sầu của thi hào Thôi Hiệu, không trỉu nặng hơn nỗi sầu vong quốc của chính chúng ta, nhưng thiết nghĩ, vì chúng ta là thân phận hậu bối, âu cũng nên chia sớt nỗi sầu xa xưa của người thiên cỗ đôi chút? Do đó mà sau khi đọc qua bài Hoàng Hạc Lâu này, trong tâm tư của chính tôi, tự nó đã hiển hiện ra cái khung cảnh xuân sơn thủy lục, được hình dung trong một giây phút xuất phát từ ảo giác của tâm hồn mình, và nghe như đâu đây, văng vẳng có những tao nhân mặc khách tự thuở nào, và nghe như họ đang cầm kỳ bên hồ sen chén ngọc hay họ đang ngâm nga thi họa bên gác tía lầu vàng, khiến cho tâm hồn tôi tưởng chừng như chính mình đang được hưởng cái vinh hạnh này, là đang được diện kiến các vị tao nhân, trong những phút giây tức cảnh nên thơ, khi tôi đang đọc qua bài Hoàng Hạc Lâu của thi hào Thôi Hiệu.

Ôi! cái mường tượng này, nó đã cấu tạo thành một bức tranh Hoàng Hạc trong ảo giác của tôi, và như tự nó đã họa lên trên mảnh lụa vàng, thành một bức tranh có muôn hoa khoe sắc, để trang hoàng, để tô điểm cho ngôi lầu hoang vắng kia trở nên rực rỡ hơn trong tiềm thức của 3 bài liên hoàn dưới đây: để Kỉnh Vấn Thi Hào Thôi Hiệu, theo thể Đường luật, cốt để gánh tiếp cái nỗi sầu ly hương xa xứ của Ngài, mà trong tâm trạng của chính tôi, cũng là tâm trạng chung của mỗi người đang mang nặng nỗi sầu ly hương vì vong quốc.

KỈNH VẤN THI HÀO THÔI HIỆU 
(khi đọc qua bài Hoàng Hạc Lâu)

Tôi cũng như ông xa xứ nhà,
Tâm hương kỉnh lễ hỏi Thôi gia:
Đi đâu ghé lại lầu Hoàng Hạc?
Đứng đó ngắm nhìn bóng Nguyệt Nga?
Hứng gió trông quê, con mắt mỏi,
Đề thơ nhớ bạn, cánh diều xa.
Mấy người chia sớt sầu ông nhỉ?
Hay chỉ mình ông tự gánh à?

Tự gánh sầu ông đến tháp ngà,
Chẳng may Tiên Hạc đã bay xa.
Phí Vi vui đạo không quày lại,
Mặc khách sầu đời chẳng ghé qua.
Những sớm cầm kỳ bên chén ngọc
Thường đêm thi họa trước thềm hoa
Với tiên, với khách, tao nhân ấy,
Vung ngọn bút thần vẩy nét sa.

Thần bút Thôi ông vẩy nét ngà,
Câu câu tuyệt diệu chẳng phai pha.
Xưa đề thơ: Một Sầu Thôi Hiệu,
Nay đọc lời: Ngàn Thảm Dạ Ta.
Thuở ấy Ngài than xa xứ sở?
Bây giờ Tôi khóc mất quê nhà!
Đợi ngày quang phục, lòng như đốt,
Mượn mấy dòng thơ để gọi là ….

“Tài liệu tham khảo: Đường Thi Tam Bách Thủ (Ba trăm bài thơ đời Đường) nguyên bản Hán văn, do Tân Hoa Thư Cục Đài Loan ấn loát và phát hành”.

Đông Thiên Triết – Canh Thìn niên 2000

(Nguồn : blog dongthientriet)

Share – Người Pháp quản lý mại dâm ở An Nam như thế nào — thân tri

Mua, bán dâm không phải là câu chuyện vài năm trở lại đây, càng không phải là tàn dư của chế độ cũ. Mại dâm là câu hỏi chính sách nhức nhối của mọi thời đại trong xã hội. Người Pháp biết đến vấn đề mãi dâm (mua dâm) […]

via Người Pháp quản lý mại dâm ở An Nam như thế nào — thân tri

Mua, bán dâm không phải là câu chuyện vài năm trở lại đây, càng không phải là tàn dư của chế độ cũ. Mại dâm là câu hỏi chính sách nhức nhối của mọi thời đại trong xã hội.

Người Pháp biết đến vấn đề mãi dâm (mua dâm) và mại dâm (bán dâm) của Việt Nam khi họ mới bắt đầu làm quen với sự xuống cấp của các ca kỹ thuyền hoa xứ Huế.

Charles Gosselin trong tác phẩm L”Empire d”Annam từng mô tả:

“Trước khi chúng ta đặt chân đến đây, ở nhiều trung tâm kinh tế lớn, mà có lẽ điển hình là Huế, những quý cô xinh xắn ưa nhìn, tinh thông cầm – thi nghệ thường được mời đến để biểu diễn tại các lễ hội dành cho tầng lớp quý tộc, hoặc những thương gia Trung Hoa ghé ngang. Họ chọn sống một cách nghệ sĩ ở sông nước thay vì đất liền, trên những chiếc thuyền hoa tao nhã.”

Tuy nhiên, tập quán – phong tục thượng cấp này được dần dần được bình dân hoá và phổ biến theo dấu chân quân đội thực dân cho đến khi hầu như không thể tìm ra được những ca kỷ biết ca hát hay có tài nghệ thật sự. Họ ngâm những câu thơ họ không hiểu, và thổi những nhạc điệu ngờ nghệch trên ống sáo Trung Hoa để tô vẽ thêm cho nghề nghiệp chính của mình – mại dâm.

Bác sĩ và chuyên gia y tế về bệnh giang mai người Pháp – ông B. Joyeux, người từng khám chữa bệnh tại Hà Nội vào đầu thế kỷ 20, phàn nàn: “Giới ca kỹ xứ An Nam ngày nay đã mất đi hết tính nghệ thuật của mình, và không còn khác gì với hetaera (từ gốc Hy Lạp, ἑταίρα, để chỉ tầng lớp mại dâm thượng lưu, hạng sang…” (Tìm đọc tại Les Maisons de chanteuses à Hanoi – Revue du Paludisme et de Médicine Tropicale)

Vậy nên, tính đúng ra, người Pháp cũng không cởi mở lắm với vấn đề mua, bán dâm.

Trong một nghiên cứu của Jean-Marie Collomb vào năm 1883  để thống kê các vấn đề của xứ An Nam (Essai sur Phygiène & la pathologie de l”Annam & du Tong-kin, Lyon, 1883), nhà thổ địa phương là một nội dung bị phê phán nhiều nhất: “Những nhà thổ địa phương, nơi việc mua, bán dâm thường diễn ra… hình thành nên những ổ truyền nhiễm bệnh kinh hoàng nhất, là địa điểm mà những nỗ lực, cân nhắc chính sách cần được tập trung. Không một nhà thổ nào ở An Nam mà không nguy hiểm và bảo đảm tiêu chuẩn y tế.”

Điều này cũng được xác nhận trong Lục Xì của Vũ Trọng Phụng, thiên phóng sự điều tra danh giá ít ỏi của giới văn nghệ sĩ An Nam về nạn mãi dâm. Tác giả mô tả nên một bức tranh xác thực đau lòng về những hệ quả sức khỏe của mua, bán dâm.

Vào năm 1914, khi mà 74% binh lính Pháp ở Bắc Kỳ mắc phải bệnh hoa liễu, nhiều bác sĩ Pháp bắt đầu để ý đến các nhà thương về mắt ở Hà Nội và khẳng định rằng trong số những người dân Việt Nam bị chột và mù, cũng phải đến bảy mươi phần trăm là do vi trùng bệnh lậu mà ra.

Giám đốc phòng Vệ sinh của thành phố Hà Nội cũng xác nhận cứ bốn nghìn trẻ con mới đẻ mà chết thì trung bình có chừng một nghìn đứa trẻ, theo lối nói kiêng của người mình thì là sàiđẹn, là bỏ, là mất, là khó nuôi, nhưng theo khoa học thì là chết vì bố mẹ có nọc bệnh giang mai hoặc những biến chứng của bệnh.

Tuy nhiên, khác với Vũ Trọng Phụng, vốn còn đoai đoái vấn đề ngàn năm văn hiến và phong tục tập quán của Việt Nam, về một Hà Nội “kinh đô của Đông Dương”, người Pháp chỉ quan tâm đến vấn đề sức khỏe. Họ cũng không quản lý mại dâm – mãi dâm với tiêu chuẩn kép để “đầu độc dân ta” hay làm “suy nhược giống nòi”, vì ngay cả ở Pháp kinh nghiệm quản lý của họ cũng chỉ đến thế.

Có hai trường phái quản lý và kiểm soát mua, bán dâm chính được người Pháp sử dụng. Cả hai đều theo xu hướng tự do hóa, chỉ khác nhau ở mức độ kiểm soát mà thôi.

Dạng thứ nhất là réglementation (hoặc les règlementaristes) – chúng ta tạm gọi trường phái kiểm soátTrường phái này tin tưởng rằng chỉ có một hệ thống pháp luật và quy chuẩn quản lý tốt mới có thể kiểm soát được tình trạng mua, bán dâm.

Thay vì để những người muốn hành nghề trôi nổi theo những hình thức bán nghệ thuật như thuyền hoa kể trên, họ sẽ phải đăng ký với chính quyền thực dân để được công nhận là prostituées soumises, và sau đó hành nghề tại những maison de tolerance, mà dân Việt Nam ta hay gọi nôm na là những hành viện, nhà thổ, thanh lâu để bán dâm đúng luật.

Danh nghĩa pháp lý prostituées insoumises hay prostituées clandestines thì để xác định hoạt động mại dâm chưa phù hợp trên đường phố hay các khu nhà nghỉ hay các hàng thuốc phiện (opium dens). Đây được xem là cách tốt nhất để vừa cho phép hoạt động mại dâm, vì cấm cũng không được, vừa đảm bảo rằng chính quyền có năng lực thống kê, kiểm soát loại ngành nghề đặc trưng này, kịp thời xử lý các vấn đề sức khỏe ngay sau khi phát hiện.

Những dispensaire được gọi nôm na là phúc đường, hay lục xì, để tạm giữ, hạn chế đi lại và trị bệnh cho người bán dâm khi họ có bệnh. Về cảnh sát, công an thì ở đâu cũng có cả ngạch cảnh sát xướng kỹ, ngạch mà người mình hay gọi vui là Đội con gái để lùng bắt người trốn, người hành nghề lậu, còn ở Pháp thì có tên nghe rất hoa mỹ là Services des Moeus.

Trường phái bãi bỏ (abolitionist – les abolitionnistes) thì tin rằng nghề mại dâm cần được giải phóng khỏi những quy định nghề thanh lâu. Tuy nhiên, cách giải phóng này không phải là thứ giải phóng mà Vũ Trọng Phụng nghĩ đến, rằng làm đĩ là khai phóng, là tự do con người.

Chỉ là những người thuộc trường phái bãi bỏ tin rằng có nhiều cách khác để giúp phụ nữ hạn chế lựa chọn những nghề nghiệp này thông qua giáo dục và các chương trình phúc lợi xã hội. Giáo dục, hướng dẫn nhờ vậy cũng sẽ giúp các bệnh xã hội được kiểm soát bằng chính ý thức của những người tham gia bán dâm và mua dâm.

Nhìn lại ở xứ An Nam và tại mẫu quốc Pháp thời điểm đó, công cụ nhà nước để kiểm soát nghề này cũng chặt và cũng khó không khác gì nhau, dù xu thế của người Pháp là áp dụng trường phái kiểm soát để dần đi đến trường phái bãi bỏ.

Bình đến vậy để cho thấy một trong những quốc gia khai phóng nhất Châu Âu vẫn ngán ngại vấn đề mua, bán dâm đến mức nào. Họ có thể không chửi bới, sỉ nhục người hành nghề mại dâm, nhưng họ vẫn xem đây là nghề không mong muốn, cần phải được kiểm soát chặt chẽ hoặc loại trừ thông qua các biện pháp giáo dục, an sinh xã hội.

Nguyễn Quốc Tấn Trung

(Nguồn : luatkhoa.org)

Share – Khi trở về nhà, hãy để tương lai lại phía sau — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

(712 chữ, 3 phút đọc) Ta chẳng nên chờ đợi từ bất kỳ ai. Không nên chờ vợ, chồng, con cái, công việc, tiền bạc… hay bất cứ điều gì khác thay đổi. 11 từ nữa

via Khi trở về nhà, hãy để tương lai lại phía sau — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

Trọ bên nhà mình là một gia đình trẻ, tầm 29 – 30 tuổi. Hai vợ chồng và một cô con gái khoảng 233 tuổi gì đó sống trong một căn phòng sạch sẽ, ngăn nắp, nhưng diện tích khá nhỏ, giá khoảng 4 triệu đồng. Với giá thành đó có thể thấy là họ khó khăn về kinh tế. Cuộc sống hiện tại không như ý muốn.

Cô con gái nhỏ vô tư nói và hát rất nhiều, hồn nhiên chưa hiểu rõ chuyện gì xảy ra. Không khí trong nhà khá ngột ngạt. Người mẹ rất ít nói, người bố thì nói khá nhiều, nhưng ngữ điệu lúc nào cũng đầy cáu gắt và căng thẳng – thể hiện một người đang bất mãn.

Người chồng thường xuyên cáu gắt với vợ; còn người vợ im lặng, thỉnh thoảng lại mở mấy bài nhạc buồn rười rượu sau khi bị chồng mắng. Nhìn gia đình ấy, ngẫm lại bản thân, mình nghĩ, có thể hiện tại chúng ta chưa kiếm ra nhiều tiền, có thể cuộc sống lúc này còn xa mới xứng đáng với những gì chúng ta mơ ước, nhưng…

Nhưng nhà là nơi để về.

Khi người ta quá tập trung vào nỗ lực tương lai để đạt được cuộc sống mà họ cho là lý tưởng, họ sẽ trở nên dễ nóng giận, và điều đó phá nát không khí gia đình. Vì, nhìn đâu trong hiện tại đang sống, ta cũng thấy sự tụt hậu, yếu kém và bất mãn. Vợ không vừa ý ta, chồng không vừa ý ta, con không vừa ý ta. Cái căn hộ này không phải nơi ta muốn – ta thích một thứ to hơn, đẹp hơn. Sự giận dữ sẽ bao trùm và biến ngôi nhà trở thành một nơi nặng nề với nhiều ẩn ức bất toại. Bạo lực âm ỉ trong lời nói, cử chỉ, và khi người này buộc phải tự vệ trước những tấn công vô hình từ phía người kia, khoảng cách sẽ xuất hiện.

Ta muốn xây dựng tương lai tốt đẹp hơn, vậy mà những điều ta làm khi trở về nhà lại đang phá nát cái tương lai đó. Sau một ngày làm việc mệt mỏi ở nơi làm việc, người chồng ấy sẽ biến ngôi nhà thành chỗ làm việc thứ hai. Anh ta sẽ sớm kiệt sức vì chẳng còn nơi nào cũng như giây phút nào để nghỉ ngơi, hồi phục, để cảm thấy có thể yêu thương và trao đi yêu thương, để được cười, được phục hồi năng lượng.

Không cần biết tương lai sẽ thế nào, gia đình phải là nơi để chúng ta tái tạo năng lượng bằng sự quan tâm, tình yêu và tiếng cười. Khi về nhà, chúng ta nên quên đi tất cả những toan tính, dù là tốt đẹp. Đừng cho rằng có một thứ gì đó có thể làm gia đình hạnh phúc hơn hiện tại, dù đó là tiền bạc, một công việc mới và một đời sống vật chất như ý hơn – những thứ đó chỉ đúng đắn vào lúc chúng ta không ở nhà. Còn khi đã về nhà, sự ủng hộ, tình yêu và tiếng cười là quan trọng nhất. Chúng ta nên để những điều ấy làm kim chỉ nam cho mình.

Và thứ đó, ta chẳng nên chờ đợi từ bất kỳ ai. Không nên chờ vợ, chồng, con cái, công việc, tiền bạc… hay bất cứ điều gì khác thay đổi. Chính chúng ta phải thay đổi.

Anh bạn nói trên đã và đang đánh mất đi cơ hội thay đổi tương lai, bằng cách tự làm cho căn nhà mình ở trở thành một địa ngục trá hình. Anh ta đánh cắp sự ủng hộ, tình yêu và tiếng cười khỏi nơi anh ta gọi là “tổ ấm.”

Điều ấy cho mình một bài học:

Đừng lấy lý tưởng tương lai để đo đạc mức độ hạnh phúc của gia đình bạn. Bởi nếu không, bạn đang đánh mất gia đình mình. Và, đừng mong người khác đổi thay, hãy tự thay đổi.

Khi rời khỏi nhà, ta có thể ôm tương lai trước ngực; nhưng khi trở về nhà, hãy đặt tương lai lại phía sau.

Tác giả: Thiếu Lê Tú Anh

Ẩm thực – The Best Athletic Fit Jeans for Guys With Big Thighs

Swole dudes need jeans, too.

Big boy jeans gallery

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Ẩm thực – 17 Amazing Ways to Eat a Banana

You’d be b-a-n-a-n-a-s if you didn’t add these genius recipes to your weight-loss repertoire!

17 Amazing Ways to Eat a Banana

Bananas are one of our favorite fruits for weight loss—they come with a convenient, on-the-go packaging. They’re loaded with potassium to accelerate hydration and muscle recovery, teeming with prebiotics to help ease digestion, and packed with fiber and resistant starches to boost satiety and balance blood sugar. Which is why we just had to find out new and unique ways we could eat more of them. (Just not 50+ of them each day, like one unique weight loss story…) And luckily for us, our beloved berry (yes, bananas are actually berries!) is the perfect addition to meals and snacks that are both delicious and nutritious.

Thanks to their high starch content and slightly sweet taste, bananas are a flavorful, slimming substitution for flour and sugar in many of your favorite recipes. We’ve compiled all the banana classics, plus many more ideas so you don’t have to tire of banana bread boredom. And if these delicious recipes aren’t enough to confince you of the beauty of bananas, maybe these 21 Amazing Things That Happen To Your Body When You Eat Bananas will.

1

Make Healthier Pancakes

Toss the baking mixes full of chemicals and sugar in the trash and make these super simple banana pancakes. If you’re as big of a banana fan as we are, we’re sure you’ve put bananas in your pancakes, but have you ever made a pancake made of bananas? It’s so easy, it requires just 2 ingredients: bananas and eggs. In a blender, combine two large eggs and one ripe banana. (For fluffier pancakes, add ⅛ teaspoon of baking powder). Cook as you do with traditional flapjacks! Because bananas are a particularly starchy fruit, they easily substitute flour in this breakfast staple. Now, find out where they rank in our report, 25 Popular Fruits—Ranked By Sugar Content!

2

Banana Coconut Chia Pudding

We here at Eat This, Not That! are big fans of the chia trend. Why? Because these little seeds are full of omega-3s, a group of fatty acids which act as an anti-inflammatory, lower blood triglycerides, and reduce your risk of heart disease. What’s more, chia seeds’ high fiber content can help melt inches off your waistline: Packing an impressive 11 grams of fiber in a two-tablespoon serving, this high-fiber food will help slow down absorption of nutrients and the conversion of carbs to sugar, meaning you’ll be less likely to gravitate to the vending machine right after lunch. Put these little weight-loss pills to work by blending together a banana, half a cup of almond milk, two tablespoons of chia seeds, and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Top with shaved dark chocolate for a little extra indulgence. For more recipes, check out these 45 Best-Ever Chia Pudding Recipes for Weight Loss.

3

Chocolate-Covered Banana Bites

Here’s a recipe for a grown up version of your favorite theme-park snack—and yes, it’s healthy! Made with cacao powder and coconut oil, this chocolate sauce delivers a dose of slow-digesting healthy fats that will help stave off hunger and plenty of antioxidants to keep inflammation at bay. To make the dark chocolate sauce, combine 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil and 1-½ tablespoons unsweetened cacao powder. Cut banana into 1-inch pieces, pierce with a toothpick, roll in chocolate sauce and then in your favorite topping: walnuts, pistachios, shredded coconut, sea salt, or capsaicin-rich chili powder if you are looking to speed up your metabolism. Freeze for at least 15 minutes.

4

Whip Up This Banana-Chocolate Pudding Cake

A cross between a mousse, pudding, and molten lava cake, this banana-chocolate cake is sure to please—both your tastebuds and your waistline. Using bananas as a substitute for flour, blend 2 very ripe bananas in a food processor, then add in an egg, ½ teaspoon vanilla, a tablespoon maple syrup, and ¼ teaspoon fine salt, blend until smooth. Separately, melt 5 ounces of dark chocolate in the microwave, then stir into the banana mixture. Beat the whites from two eggs in a separate mixture until stiff peaks, then fold into the chocolate banana mixture. Pour into a greased or parchment-paper-lined, 8-inch round baking pan and bake for 25 minutes in a 375 degree oven. This high-protein, low-carb treat will make its way onto your dessert plate more than once.

5

Sweeten Up Your Oatmeal

Instead of adding empty calories like refined white sugars that only spike your blood sugar and cause it to come crashing down soon after, why not flavor your oatmeal with bananas? Cut up half a banana, mash it with a fork, and then fold it into your favorite bowl of steel cut oats along with a sprinkling of cinnamon. This cut of oats is lower on the glycemic index than rolled or instant oats, meaning they’ll keep you fuller, longer. Always in a rush in the morning? Make them overnight oatsstyle! Just boil 4 cups of water in a pot. Add one cup of steel-cut oats and simmer for 1 minute. Cover the pot, allow it to cool, and then store overnight in the fridge.

6

Make a Fruit Kabob

Looking to shrink your waist? Skip out on those oreos and indulge in nature’s candy. Aside from being super low-cal and fat-free, these fruit kabobs are teeming with vitamins and minerals. The potassium in the bananas helps your body metabolize fats and carbohydrates while the vitamin C in accompanying fruits has been shown to help the body oxidize fat stores during moderate-intensity exercise, according to a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

7

Use in Smoothies

Few people have made a smoothie without this elongated fruit, but have you ever tried making the frozen blend with a green banana? Prior to ripening, bananas are rich in resistant starch, a hard-to-find form of fiber that digests slowly for prolonged feelings of fullness and more efficient fat oxidation. Oh, and did we also mention it’s good for gut health? Resistant starches feed the beneficial bacteria in your belly, which then convert the starches into anti-inflammatory compounds that help to suppress your appetite and bolster your immune system. For an exotic blend, try combining ½ frozen banana, ½ cup frozen pineapple, ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, ½-inch piece fresh ginger (peeled and chopped), the juice of half a lime, and 1 cup coconut water.

8

Top Off Your Cereal

Having trouble sleeping? One simple solution could be eating a bowl of cereal, milk, and bananas before bed. For starters, bananas are an excellent source of potassium and magnesium, two muscle-relaxing minerals. Plus, bananas and milk contain tryptophan, the precursor to sleep-regulating hormones serotonin and melatonin. To expedite the absorption of sleep-inducing hormones into your brain, researchers have found it’s best to pair tryptophan-containing foods with a high-glycemic carb such as rice cereal. That’s because carbs can help tryptophan outcompete other amino acids for entrance into your brain, allowing more of the sedative to signal it’s time to catch some ZZZ’s.

9

Use in ‘Nice’ Cream

This simple swap—subbing “nice” cream for ice cream—is one of the 36 Easy Ways to Cut 50+ Calories. What’s so nice about this frozen dessert? Because it uses frozen bananas instead of any cream, it’s completely dairy-free and free of refined sugars—two ingredients that are common sources of weight-inducing inflammation in American diets. To make a rift on our favorite banana ice cream flavor from Ben & Jerry’s (Chunky Monkey), add 2 diced, frozen bananas and a tablespoon of coconut oil and blend until you reach that creamy consistency of soft-serve ice cream. Spoon into a bowl and fold in bits of dark chocolate and walnuts. Freeze for about 15 more minutes. One bite, and you’ll never go back to that other tub. Speaking of Ben & Jerry’s, have you seen our exclusive report, Every Ben & Jerry’s Flavor—Ranked by Nutrition?

10

Banana Sushi

You’ve seen sushi burritos, sushi burgers, and even sushi donuts, but have you ever seen banana sushi? This elevated take on your favorite snack-time treat will become the new star of your Instagram feed. Like blogger Fit Foodie Finds does in the photo above, simply smear some melted dark chocolate or your favorite nut butter on top of a banana. Top with chia seeds and pistachios or some shredded coconut. According to a review posted in the journal Nutrition Reviews, out of all nuts, pistachios contain the highest levels gamma tocopherol (vitamin E), phytosterols, and carotenoids, three types of antioxidant compounds which mop up the free radicals which cause cellular damage and inflammation.

11

Crush Cravings with These Cookies

Say hello to a waistline-friendly oatmeal cookie. Free of blood-sugar-spiking refined white flour or refined sugar, these cookies get all their starch from bananas and extra fiber from the oats. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mash three bananas in a bowl, then add ¼ cup melted coconut oil, 1-½ cups rolled oats, ¼ cup chopped walnuts a tablespoon ground flaxseed, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and ½ a teaspoon each of cinnamon and salt. Stir well, roll into cookies, and bake for 25 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown.

12

Whip Up These Breakfast Pops

We’re taking fro-yo to a whole ‘nother level; the breakfast level. Eat your dessert for breakfast with these frozen treats. Just combine a cup of low-fat Greek yogurt, 3 bananas, and half a cup of creamy peanut butter in a blender, process until smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness to your liking by adding up to a tablespoon of honey. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds (or into an ice cube tray, if that’s what you have!), add sticks, and freeze overnight.

13

Banana Bread

A good banana bread is hard to beat. Unless, of course, you can make a good banana bread that’s also healthy. Whip up our Zero Belly recipe for banana bread. Our healthy take on a baked-goods classic cuts down on butter and ups the moisture with an extra banana and some creamy, protein-packed Greek yogurt. We also add in some chopped walnuts, which provide an extra boost of protein as well as some healthy fats. Toast up a slice of this loaf to treat yourself at breakfast.

14

Pair With PB For a Post-Workout Snack

This classic childhood snack made it to the big leagues. Bananas are full of potassium, a mineral which helps your muscles recover from a workout, strengthens their development, and allows you to work out more. Pair that with some protein-packed peanut butter to repair and rebuild lean muscle mass.

15

Top Off Your Yogurt

The perfect post workout snack is one you likely already eat for breakfast: Greek yogurt and bananas. One of the benefits of Greek yogurt is that it’s full of protein, a macronutrient which will rebuild muscle that was broken down and then help to tone up new muscles. To increase your lean muscle mass even more, add a banana. This tropical fruit is a good source of magnesium, a mineral that helps with muscle contraction and relaxation, boosts lipolysis (a process by which your body releases fat from its stores), and encourages protein synthesis (which, in turn, increases lean muscle mass).

16

Substitute In Cakes

Say goodbye to gluten-free nut flours and hello to banana flour! Made from under-ripened bananas, the flour is virtually tasteless, but still carries many of the same health benefits of the flavorful fruit. Because it’s made from green bananas, banana flour is rich in resistant starch—a class of carbs that’s harder for the body to store as fat and that can boost satiety hormones by a whopping 51 percent! Use this flour to make your dinner rolls or favorite cakes, just use 25 percent less than what your recipes calls for, as banana flour contains more starch than other flours.

17

Use In A Curry

Because curries often have a mild sweetness, bananas make a great substitution for coconut milk in this spicy, creamy dish. Just blend together two bananas with a couple tablespoons each butter, curry powder, and ground coriander, the zest and juice of a lime, a quarter cup of chicken stock, and season with salt and pepper. Pour over four chicken breasts, some cauliflower, and cubed potatoes and roast for 20-25 minutes in a 425 degree oven. Serve alongside brown rice and topped with fresh flat-leaf parsley. Why do we love curry powder so much? Because it’s full of turmeric! Find out why turmeric is on the list of best weight loss ingredients in these 14 Reasons Turmeric Deserves a Spot In Your Diet.

By OLIVIA TARANTINO

Full link: https://www.eatthis.com/banana-cooking-tips/?utm_source=nsltr&utm_medium=email&utm_content=best-worst-papa-johns-menu&utm_campaign=etntNewsletter

Collection – 5 Powerful Habits of Successful Developers.

We become what we repeatedly do.

Larry Wall, the original author of the Perl programming language, once said that great developers have three virtues: laziness, impatience, and hubris.

Laziness because it drives them to write labor-saving programs and document them well so they won’t have to answer questions about them. Impatience because it motivates them to write programs that anticipate your needs. And hubris because it makes them want to write tight code that other people won’t criticize.

That said, successful developers are not necessarily the greatest of developers.

A developer who gets the everyday jobs done well is much more effective than the one who occasionally reaches dizzying coding heights. And for most employers, it’s the area under the curve that counts, not the highest point it reaches.

And the success you seek comes from how you see yourself, the world, and the habits you have to deal with life’s challenges. In fact, according to researchers at Duke University, as much as 40% of our success(or failure)happens automatically as a result of our habits.

And here are some powerful habits which can supercharge your success as a developer.


Be Professional

Steve Maraboli was bang on target when he said.

“The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same. And both Requires Professionalism.”

Professionalism is like the sword of Damocles. On one Hand, it is a badge of honor and pride, but on the other, it is also a marker of responsibility and accountability. The two always go hand in hand. You can’t take pride and honor in something that you can’t be held accountable for.

Imagine you have written some code and deployed into production. A serious issue happened because of your code and the production system was disrupted for one day. Needless to say, the customer incurred quite a bit of financial loss. You revert the code but whatever damage happened could not be undone.

The nonprofessional would shrug his shoulders, say “stuff happens,” and start writing the next module. The professional would sweat and fret over the slippage and will make sure that such shoddy stuff is not repeated again.

Always remember Professionalism is all about accountability. You cannot be right all the time. But you need to own up the wrong done by you.


Do not Repeat the Same Error

Amit Kalantri hit the nail on the head when he said.

“If an apology is followed by an excuse or a reason, it means they are going to commit the same mistake again they just apologized for.”

Clearly, we want our software to work. Indeed, most of us are programmers today because we got something to work once and we want that feeling of euphoria again. But we aren’t the only ones who want the software to work. Our customers and employers want it to work too. Indeed, they are paying us to create software that works just the way they want it to.

So far so good. But Software isn’t perfect. Every software will have bugs.

The key here is not aspiring to write perfect code. That is a utopian fantasy and will never happen. The message here is taking complete accountability of all the imperfections in your software. Create new bugs. Make new mistakes. But do not repeat the same mistake over and over again.

As you mature in your profession, your error rate should rapidly decrease towards zero. It won’t ever get to zero, but it is your responsibility to get as close as possible to it.


Don’t Leave Anything to Luck. It Never Works.

Jim Jenkins rightly said.

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of meeting the schedule has been forgotten.”

The rule-of-thumb is that if something is deemed to go wrong, it will go wrong and no amount of luck can prevent it from happening.

That is why testing is so important. How can you know your code works? That’s easy. Test it. Test it again. Test it up. Test it down. Test it all seven days to Sunday!

Even if deadlines are stiff and the pressure is immense on you to cut corners, do not do so. Automate test cases, get into pair programming mode or even look at reusing existing test cases. But do not do anything that will curtail the sanctity of this step.

Your whole reputation depends on how well you have tested the code before deploying in production. Every single piece of code written by you should be tested. Period.

What if the code is “untestable”? The code is written in such a way that makes it difficult to test.

The short answer is making the code easy to test. And the best way to do that is to write your tests first before you write the code that passes them.

Always remember the purpose of your code is to get it executed to solve a business problem. If that objective fails, no amount of LOCs and code beautification is of any use.

You as a programmer ought to know if your code works. Nothing else is more important than this fundamental fact.


Always Create Flexible Code

Siri Hustvedt has rightly said.

“Creativity has always depended on openness and flexibility, so let us hope for more of both in the future.”

The true professional knows that delivering function at the expense of structure is a fool’s errand. It is the structure of your code that allows it to be flexible. If you compromise the structure, you compromise the future.

The fundamental assumption underlying all software projects is that software is easy to change. If you find that this is not possible then something somewhere is seriously wrong.

Too many projects get trapped into the quagmire of inflexible code. Developers come and go and they add further to the morass of inflexible code and finally we end up creating a monster that can neither be rewritten nor can be maintained easily.

The key here is identifying those portions of the code that make it inflexible. Once we find those portions, we invest time and effort and rewrite those portions instead of adding further to the mess already created. This effort will go dead against deadlines. But so be it. Get the buy-in and do the right thing.

Always follow the principle of “Merciless Refactoring”. Leave the code cleaner when you leave it and if that means doing something “extra” from what you have been told to do, do it.


And Lastly, Be a Learner Always.

Anthony J. D’Angelo was bang on target when he said.

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.

“I want to do S4 HANA course. But the employer is not sponsoring”

“I wanted to learn Webdynpro forms. I am not able to find time from my busy schedule”

“I want to attend that Codeathon. But It is coming on Weekend.”

All these are excuses for not to learn. Your career is your responsibility. It is not your employer’s responsibility to make sure you are marketable. It is not your employer’s responsibility to train you, or to send you to conferences, or to buy you books. These things are your responsibility.

As a rule-of-thumb follow the 40–20-hour rule every week. The 40 hours of time belongs to the employer. The remaining 20 hours belongs to you, for your own learning. Make your week at a minimum of 60 hours per week to imbibe a continuous learning culture within you.

And 20 hours per week is not difficult. If you use your time wisely; travel time, lunch time, weekends, etc., you find a lot more time available at your disposal to be utilized only for yourself.

Always remember the software field is constantly changing and it is very easy to turn into an obsolete dinosaur. So if you want to stay ahead of the times and remain valuable, invest in yourself and keep learning.

As Seema Openers has righty said.

“Self-education is open to all but it is taken only by those who refuse to live a small and purposeless life.”

By Ravi Shankar Rajan

Full link: https://medium.com/swlh/5-powerful-habits-of-successful-developers-1c0e32659ea3

Collection – Losing More Than Your Mind in a Divorce

Reflections on the day he took the spoon caddy

This truth is known in divorce — From time to time, you lose your shit. Literally. Like, it was there on Tuesday and today is Thursday and it is not there. This is the Jack-In-The-Box of divorce suckitude and you can’t predict when it will pop up. But, I have an idea on how to make this easier and it is brilliant.

My soon to be ex-husband’s name was still on the deed to the house until the divorce was final. So, he felt the legal right to be there. This had not been an issue as he had “spousal induced health issues” that caused his blood pressure to skyrocket to 220/145 when he was around me.

Literally, I might have been able to kill him by jumping out from behind a wall and yelling, “Boo!”

He was never at the house when I was. What meant was that he would come by from time to time and either clean out or pick up stuff that was his. Or he felt should be his. On some days, the change in household appearance was so subtle I felt like I was staring at that puzzle where you have two pictures side by side and have to figure out what is different. Sometimes I didn’t even notice something was different until shit got weird. Like when I went to make eggs.

I cracked my eggs in the pan and went for a spatula. We had this stainless steel canister/spoon holder that I would unceremoniously cram 16 spatulas and spoons into when only 14 would fit. So unceremoniously, I must say, that I almost didn’t notice it had been removed from the home and replaced with a large plastic Harkins Theatre reusable tumbler cup from 2013.

The 16 spatulas and spoons had been shoved into the cup and remained so prolific that there was and overflow of spatulas and spoons on the counter. It begged the question of not only why there was an urgent need for the container but what in Sam hell was he going to put in there?!?! Clearly, I owned all the spatula real estate!

This brings me a concept I think needs to be embraced by our society: There needs to be a registry for divorced people like they have for weddings and baby showers. The intention, of course, is that your friends help you replace your miscellaneous small household items that seem unimportant until they are not.

Having been through two of these divorce things, I can tell you there are three certainties:

1. You will at some point find yourself in your home and exceptionally intoxicated.

2. This will compel you to dig deep down into your soul and then dig deep down into your freezer where you will find a frozen pizza.

3. You will take said pizza out of the oven and lose your shit when you realize you no longer own a pizza cutter because you lost it in the divorce.

When my first marriage broke up (don’t talk to me about patterns, I know I’m no walk in the park….) my dear friend Deanna understood my very real fear of this scenario and sent me a very nice Kitchenaid pizza cutter with a label on it that read “Vanessa’s.” We felt this sent a clear message that it was not to be trifled with. When the stainless steel keeper of crap went missing, I ran to that drawer to ensure that (and the wine bottle opener) was still there. Relief.

We need to appeal to Target to have a gift registry added. Bridal Showers, Baby Showers, Divorce. In the middle of a divorce, I don’t know a single person that wouldn’t feel better running around Target with one of those price gun things selecting random crap to be replaced after a marital apocalypse. You could register for wine, for God’s sake!

There are so many rays of sunshine and joy in this idea.

Now you get to register for all the things your soon-to-be-ex-spouse wouldn’t let you have. Like, dinosaur salt and pepper shakers. Or fun.

This is not a gender specific activity. I long for the day I stumble upon a soon-to-be-divorced man’s support group on a Sunday. They’ve been watching the game all day and have full liquored up their buddy and turned him loose in Target.

“Hey dude, remember how your wife wouldn’t let you have that FryDaddy deep fat fryer because she was concerned it might result in your waistline expanding after you fry and eat 4 pounds of chicken wings? Get that shit on your Divorce Registry.”

Grab. Scan. Happiness. Chicken Wings. BOOM!

I am serious. There is pure joy here. And let me tell you, as a person who has been there and done that (twice) I would absolutely go up to that registry and buy some random person I don’t even know a pizza cutter. Just an “I feel you” gift from a stranger. Man, that would make me feel good. What do you need? I got you. Let’s do this.

By Vanessa Torre

Full link: https://medium.com/@vanessatorre/losing-more-than-your-mind-in-a-divorce-26e101d3cc00

Stoic – The Best Technology Ever Invented

There have been all sorts of wonderful technological innovations since Marcus Aurelius’s time, particularly in the domain of writing. We got the printing press. We got typewriters. We got ballpoint pens and erasers and whiteout. We got computers and smartphones. We have emails and tweets and audio memos.

Journaling for Marcus wouldn’t have been easy. He needed ink and some sort of pen-like implement, and he had to write on fragile parchment. The supplies weren’t cheap. He needed to do everything by hand. We might think we are superior for all our fancy tools and real-time digital backups and copy and paste. But are we?

In a recent interview, Walter Isaacson pointed out just how well paper has held up over the centuries:

“Paper’s not a bad technology. It is really a good technology for the storage and retrieval of information. After 500 years, we still can turn the pages of Leonardo’s notebooks. From the 1990s, Steve Jobs had some memos on a NeXT Computer in his house. Even with his tech [abilities], we couldn’t retrieve that, because the NeXT operating system no longer can retrieve the documents that well. So every now and then, one of the lessons I learned is take notes on paper in a notebook. They’ll be around 50 years for …your grandchildren or great-grandchildren. They’ll be around maybe 500 years.”

It is remarkable that the simple letters that Seneca penned by hand to a friend survive to us today and remain best read in print. It’s incredible to think that Marcus Aurelius’s journals, which also endure, were themselves influenced by the notes one of his teachers took while sitting and listening to the lectures of Epictetus. There are fragments in his journal and in the journals and commonplace books of writers that preserve lines from Epictetus that would have otherwise vanished to history.

The power of putting things down on paper should not be underestimated, particularly today. Sure, it can be a pain to carry books around with you. Every once in a while a pen breaks in your pocket or your bag and makes a mess. Yes, handwritten words are harder to search. They take up more space in your house than they would in the cloud.

But there is something special and timeless and perennial about the art of writing by hand. It’s a more involved process—and that’s the point. It’s good that it takes more time and energy, because you’ll remember it more. It’s good that it’s physical and takes up space—this way you’ll pass it in the hallway when you walk by. It’s good that it’s harder to search…who knows what you’ll find when you flip through the pages, one by one. So what if it’s more delicate? Maybe you’ll treat it with the respect it deserves this way.

Take Isaacson’s advice. Get a notebook. Start writing!

Collection – How to Handle It When You Get Emotional at Work, According to Science

Ask people the most embarrassing thing that could happen at work and crying will likely top many people’s lists. But while crying at the office is dreaded, it’s also far from rare — work can be a pressure cooker of stress, exhaustion, and interpersonal tension, after all. So what should you do if the worst happens and you burst into tears in front of your boss or colleagues? Science has the answer.

Tears Are Embarrassing, but Passion Is Admired

What’s so terrifying about getting emotional at the office? Besides letting your professional mask slip to reveal the messy, complicated human being underneath, crying at work can kill your reputation for authority and control. No one wants to follow a leader that can’t hold it together when the going gets tough.

“Crying … is just one of a menu of communication blunders that, in a mere instant, can suck the executive presence right out of you,” economist and author Sylvia Ann Hewlett has written.

But while tearing up can signal a lack of mental toughness, it also shows your commitment. No one cries at work when they make a mistake on their last day, after all. So the way to deal with tears at work, according to science, is to spin them not as a sign of weakness, but as a sign of passion.

Through a series of experiments, a team of business school professors from INSEAD, Cornell, Harvard, and the University of Michigan recently tested how reframing an emotional outburst as a sign of passion affected co-workers’ perceptions of an emotional colleague. Whether the researchers asked volunteers to imagine someone breaking down or to recall real-life emotional outbursts, the findings were the same — tell people you’re crying out of passion and they’ll perceive you as more competent than if you simply ignore or apologize for the incident.

“Overall, participants preferred the rationale of passion and, on average, rated the ‘passionate’ employee’s competency as 20 percent higher than that of the employee who offered no excuses. The next best answer was simply apologising. Even attributing the outburst to sheer emotion was better than giving no explanation,” explained INSEAD professor and study co-author Elizabeth Baily Wolf on INSEAD Knowledge.

If It Works for Elon Musk …

As Baily Wolf points out in her article, this isn’t just theoretical. It’s a technique that smart executives already use in the real world. “Just ask Tesla CEO Elon Musk,” she writes. “At the beginning of Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting earlier this month, he choked up briefly as he said, ‘Thank you for buying our product. We’re doing everything we can to make it as good as possible, as fast as possible.’ He then added, ‘This is going to sound a little cheesy, but at Tesla we build our cars with love.'” Musk, in other words, blamed his passion for his out of control emotions.

So the next time you get emotional at work, don’t ignore or just apologize for it. Instead, be like Musk and cite your passion. You’ll probably still be embarrassed, but your reputation as a professional will remain solid.

By Jessica Stillman

Full link: https://curiosity.com/topics/how-to-handle-it-when-you-get-emotional-at-work-according-to-science-curiosity?utm_campaign=daily-digest&utm_source=sendgrid&utm_medium=email

Collection – Perfecting Private Accommodations–Airbnb vs. Expedia

Many of the stories about Airbnb in the press focus either on the guest from hell (think pop-up brothel) or on unlikely tales like the man that lived in his office for a year so that he could illegally Airbnb his place. As Airbnb is rumored to be about to go public, how does it compare against more traditional businesses in the travel space?

It is interesting to study the evolution of its strategy and compare it to another top company in the travel sector, Expedia, an Online Travel Agent (OTA). While they broadly operate in the same global travel market, they seemed so far to have mostly stayed out of each other’s way. Expedia allows customers to book airline tickets, rental cars, and hotel rooms. Airbnb is a marketplace through which customers can book alternative lodging–overnight stays outside the traditional hotel channel. However, given recent moves by each company, it is fair to ask if they are really that different and what they will look like in the future.

In this article I will attempt to answer the question of the potential evolution of the rivalry of Airbnb vs. Expedia through a deep-dive into the history, characteristics, recent strategic moves, and my experience as an investor in public and private companies.

History of Expedia and Airbnb

Expedia.com was launched in October 1996 (as part of Microsoft) as an online travel agency that allowed customers to make air, car and hotel reservations online. Expedia lodging offerings have long been a mainstay of traditional business travel.

Airbnb was founded in August 2008 as an online platform that offered short-term stays in people’s houses and apartments, operating in the private accommodation market. The site quickly expanded from air beds and shared spaces to include a variety of properties including entire homes and apartments, private rooms, and other unique properties such as tree houses and private islands. Airbnb has ushered in a new travel product–other people’s homes and apartments. Sure, the option to rent a home has always existed but it was a local business–if you wanted to rent a beach house in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, for example, you contacted a rental agency in the Outer Banks. Airbnb’s technology made the private accommodations market ubiquitous, particularly in urban areas.

Traditional Similarities Between Expedia and Airbnb

From the beginning, there have been some similarities between Expedia and Airbnb. Both companies are digital-first companies that make it easier for customers to identify, compare and book travel accommodations. Additionally, both companies serve as agents. Neither one actually provides a product–they don’t own or operate physical locations. Rather, they are market makers. Airbnb is connecting a very fragmented customer base and supply base so it could be argued it has created a more powerful closed-loop network.

Both Expedia and Airbnb Are Behemoths in the Travel Industry

Expedia generated $11 billion of revenue in 2018 on $100 billion of gross bookings. Expedia is an end-to-end online travel platform that offers multiple travel products (lodging, flights, rental cars, cruises, and destination services and activities) through multiple brands including Expedia, Hotels.com, HomeAway, and Orbitz. Lodging, which includes traditional hotel accommodations as well as alternative accommodations, accounts for 69% of their revenue.

Airbnb is now generating over $4 billion of run-rate annual revenue. It is still primarily an alternative accommodations or home rental company but it has moved closer to an online travel agency as it has steadily moved into new businesses outside of home-rental, whose growth is threatened by regulations that cap short-term rentals. New offerings include guided tours and activities, luxury homes and restaurant reservations.

At a Glance–Expedia vs. Airbnb

At a Glance–Expedia vs. Airbnb

Expedia Plays Catch-Up

As the private accommodations market has grown faster than the hotel market and become a $34 billion market (thanks to Airbnb), Expedia has moved into the space.

The first major move came in August 2015, when Expedia purchased HomeAway (the parent company of VRBO) in order to establish a presence in the private accommodation market. Expedia’s then CEO Khosrowshahi (now the CEO of Uber) laid out their thesis for the deal, saying “With our expertise in powering global transactional platforms and our industry-leading technology capabilities, we look forward to partnering with them to accelerate the shift from a classified marketplace to an online, transactional model.”

In October 2016, Expedia concluded that the HomeAway vacation rental service was complementary to their hotel business. Consequently, they started integrating HomeAway listings into their Expedia hotel listings, depending on the type of trip someone was booking. It is worth noting that the process of acquiring rooms to list on the site is very different for hotel rooms or private properties. For hotels, hundreds of rooms can be acquired through one deal negotiated with a chain, while for private accommodations, individual owners must list their properties themselves with minimal effort to make it worthwhile. A good parallel can be enterprise vs. retail software sales.

Then in August 2018, Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom, who replaced Dara Khosrowshahi when he departed for Uber, said that the company had spent three years upgrading the technology of its HomeAway unit. Having completed that technology investment, Expedia was ready to add more home listings to HomeAway in an attempt to catch up with competitors such as Airbnb.

Airbnb Bites Back

Airbnb has also moved onto Expedia’s turf. In March 2018, Airbnb announced that it was moving into the traditional hotel market. In an open letter to boutique hotel and bed-and-breakfast owners, Airbnb essentially said they wanted hoteliers to advertise their rooms on their platform. Airbnb argued that they were better for the hoteliers than the big online travel agencies like Booking and Expedia. Airbnb was correct as they were charging independent, non-branded hotels a 3% to 5% commission, which was considerably lower than the commissions charged by online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia that could be as high as 25% to 30%.

By the end of 2018, Airbnb had more than doubled the number of available rooms in hotels, resorts, hostels, and similar venues on its platform. Consequently, Airbnb had three times the number of hotel room bookings in 2018 compared to 2017. This makes Airbnb an even bigger threat to the hospitality business: a recent academic study of the impact of Airbnb on a number of cities in the US has found that a 1% increase in Airbnb supply has a 0.02% negative impact on hotel revenues.

In March 2019, Airbnb announced it was buying HotelTonight, a San Francisco based company that uses an app to sell last-minute, unused inventory at boutiques and independent hotels. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky called the acquisition a “big part of building an end-to-end travel platform.”

Consumer Spending on Airbnb vs. Hotels

Consumer Spending on Airbnb vs. Hotels

After this strategic back and forth, how do Expedia and Airbnb compare today?

Expedia and Airbnb Are the Leaders in the Private Accommodations Market

Alternative accommodations, through VRBO and their HomeAway group, has become a sizeable platform for Expedia, accounting for $11 billion gross bookings on 1.8+ million online bookable listings. Airbnb meanwhile has 6+ million listings worldwide.

According to a July 2017 Wall Street Journal article, Susquehanna International Group reported that Airbnb accounted for 15% of global room nights in private accommodations, compared with 125 for Expedia.

In this article, we are focusing on Airbnb and Expedia. It is, however, worth noting that there are other very large companies in the online travel space, most notably Booking.com, which also offers both hotel and private accommodations, TripAdvisor, that has a private rental feature, and Momondo, which offers cheap flights. All of these companies will surely be under a lot of scrutiny in the near future and could become M&A targets.

More traditional hospitality companies, like Marriott, are following in the footsteps of Expedia, with Marriott recently announcing a new business, Homes & Villas, offering highly curated vacation homes in many countries–a slightly different segment that the main one pursued by Airbnb, namely affordable accommodation in urban centers.

What Will the Companies Look Like in 5–10 Years?

It seems the companies will continue to converge, for a few reasons. First, Airbnb appears intent on becoming an end-to-end travel platform, with their recent acquisition of HotelTonight serving as Exhibit A. In advance of their planned IPO, it makes sense for Airbnb to diversify into other segments of travel in order to satisfy public investors’ desire for multiple avenues of growth. The regulatory risk of the home-rental market also makes it increasingly prudent for Airbnb to grow its presence in the hotel market, where its advantageous commissions can undercut the legacy OTAs.

In their bids to win the travel customer, offering the most lodging inventory is an important feature for both Expedia and Airbnb. One travel expert has said, “we expect the lines to blur over the long term, as consumers are likely to favor the websites that offer the most inventory and selection across hotels and alternative accommodations.” In order to bolster their respective lodging inventories, Airbnb needs to increase their hotel offering while Expedia needs to increase their private/alternative accommodations inventory. Thus, they will increasingly compete against each other and become more similar.

Both Expedia and Airbnb have strong valuations: Expedia has a market cap of $18 billion. Airbnb was valued at $31 billion after closing the second round of its $1 billion Series B in May 2017. It has received an even higher implied valuation from both its acquisition of HotelTonight, in which it priced its common stock at ~$35 billion and its 409a valuation, which valued the company at $38 billion.

Also, because the private accommodation market is more fragmented than the traditional hotel market, it could be argued that digital brokers such as Airbnb and Expedia can add more value to private accommodations. Expedia’s former CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said it best, saying “We think vacation rentals are at the very early stages of being wired up on a global basis. To the extent that you as an e-commerce player can wire up these fragmented marketplaces, you can add significant value to both the supplier and also to consumers.” Therefore, as the private accommodation market continues its trajectory (the market is expected to grow at 6% per year through 2023), Expedia and Airbnb will continue to compete for a share of this private accommodation market.

Who Is Going to Win the War for the Customer?

Airbnb and Expedia will become more and more similar as they continue to increase their inventory of travel products. The global travel market is a huge addressable market. Per Expedia, the global travel market represents $1.7 trillion in bookings. There should be more than enough room for a few companies to separate themselves. Are the OTAs (such as Expedia and Airbnb) in the best position to control this industry?

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson has said there is a war between the traditional travel and hospitality companies and tech giants. Hotel reservations and airplane tickets can very easily be purchased online which favors the tech companies but at the same time, traditional hotel companies control the actual product–the actual physical location where you stay, that can’t be shipped to someone.

As Airbnb prepares for its public markets debut, it will face increasing scrutiny. Since it appears to be close to reaching saturation in the US, it is expanding beyond its traditional offering of lower priced, at times shared accommodation towards hotels, and luxury experiences and lodging. As its main competitors gain ground in their home turf, investors will increasingly demand a greater focus on strategy and product offerings.

Who wins this war for the customer? Airbnb vs. Expedia? Both seem to think they can win. It will be interesting to watch.

By TYLER CAIN

Full link: https://www.toptal.com/finance/market-research-analysts/airbnb-vs-expedia?utm_campaign=Toptal%20Finance%20Blog&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=73189275&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–BGaT7gQTsatOxhyUVgShQ_U8p32D8Y4S9RJ5Y6W69VExgJGynlR7GVIyhtig6zXr7C3_IftrHr65osaR2olxx1nr-jA&_hsmi=73189275

Collection – The endgame for postal networks: How to win in the age of e-commerce

The e-commerce megatrend is a big opportunity for postal players, but market and competitive dynamics are squeezing incumbents. Three winning tactics can help these companies stay competitive.

With the rise of new competitors, new technologies, and the inexorable trend toward e-commerce, postal networks face a turning point. Our new report The endgame for postal networks: How to win in the age of e-commerce explores the strategic issues at hand and dives deeply into the actions incumbents should take to stay competitive. This article extracts highlights from the full report to outline a broad overview of the landscape, tactics that can help companies keep up and cut costs by up to 20 percent, and steps for getting started.

Time for the next move

It’s useful to look at the state of play, for the broader postal and parcel market and for incumbent companies. The decline of the mail business—the long-standing and reliable cash cow of many incumbents—due to electronic communication is structural and irreversible. Mail revenue share still stands at around 40 percent globally today, but is swiftly declining, as indicated by a shift in volumes: the global volume ratio of letters to parcels has declined from 13:1 in 2005 to 4:1 in 2015 and is expected to reach 1:1 parity by 2025 (Exhibit 1).

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In contrast, the e-commerce megatrend will fuel a $9 trillion retail opportunity by 2025, creating opportunities that no postal player should give up without a fight. After all, parcel logistics—from pickup to delivery—are steadily becoming the most crucial enabler of that growth, given that an estimated 70 to 80 percent of all e-commerce purchases are delivered via networks rather than picked up in store. Differences in e-commerce parcel penetration rates point to potential accelerated growth in less developed markets (Exhibit 2), but the general premise is global: capturing a piece of the resultant parcel-volume growth will be crucial for incumbents wishing to protect the unique benefits of their joint mail–parcel operations.

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In concurrence with such lofty growth dynamics across global parcel markets, new challenges are pushing incumbents to a tipping point. The entire logistics value chain for parcel handling is up for grabs, as indicated most clearly by the recent and sizable forward integration moves from e-commerce supergiants, such as Alibaba, Amazon, and JD.com (Exhibit 3). These moves include Amazon’s order of 20,000 delivery vans in the United States and Alibaba’s shift to offer parcel delivery to the broader market. The three supergiants alone now account for around 40 percent of online purchases globally, and the move into parcel delivery seems an obvious choice.

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In face of rising consumer demands and competitive pressures, most incumbents are still stuck with structurally uncompetitive labor costs 20 to 40 percent higher than those of their new competitors, along with legacy IT systems and risk-averse cultures, as new competitors erode their primary sources of competitive advantage: strong brands and scale benefits.

Three winning tactics

Incumbent companies can, however, focus on three tactics in seeking to stay competitive:

Earn the right to innovate. Successful postal incumbents have raised productivity by 1 to 2 percent annually over the last decade. This level of continuous improvement, however, is becoming ever harder to maintain, but at the same time, ever more mission-critical in view of current market dynamics. Before focusing on fashionable, science-fiction-like fantasies of delivery drones and droids, postal incumbents need to step up their game by further optimizing their current operations, boosting operational excellence in sorting, transport, pickup and delivery, and—often neglected—business support functions. We propose seven key initiatives that can reduce total costs by up to 20 percent (Exhibit 4). The levers with the greatest impact for many players are advanced ways of production integration, analytics-supported flexible resource planning, and an automation opportunity of up to 50 percent for operational planning and support activities that are today often too manual and inefficient.

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Build the right capacity. Building on a solid operational foundation, incumbents need a long-term plan to establish the additional capacity required to participate in continuous parcel growth. The long-term plan needs to answer three key questions: How much capacity is needed (and where) in line with evolving e-tailer fulfillment strategies and service expectations? What’s the right kind of automation technology in line with product mix and local factor costs? How can additional capacity be integrated in the best way to protect joint network economics? With about 75 percent of delivery speed issues in today’s postal networks being “structural,” strategic investments into the network offer a unique opportunity to not just create capacity for growth and improve the operating cost base, but also for a real step change in service offering.

As such, leading players are already and continuously investing billions of dollars into their networks.

Create an innovation engine. Incumbents should follow a structured approach if they are to innovate in both products and production systems. With both quality enhancements and cost reductions in mind, they should first create a consumer-centric product strategy. Next is developing a digital and data strategy. This should set critical foundations in place via a two-speed IT approach and address innovation in the core via customer experience (think personalized delivery notification and rerouting) and value-chain design (think underlying enablers to do, for instance, with track and trace). It should also consider attaining new frontiers in the production system or product portfolio (for example, with robotics or artificial intelligence). Two “must have” priorities should top any postal executive’s agenda right now. The first is raising end-to-end transparency along the production chain via both advanced software and new, increasingly economical hardware like smart sensors. The second is enhancing dynamic tour planning capabilities as the door opener to the biggest potential step changes in cost and customer experience.

Get into action mode

So how can postal players get started? Most important, they need to get into action mode and execute. Of course, major transformations touching on the operational core of the business are not easy to get underway with so many options to consider. A few elements can help:

Plan your moves with care. Incumbents should create a shared vision and gain alignment throughout the company. And they should understand customer needs in as much detail as possible in order for those needs to be translated into action.

Build momentum with early wins. To implement successfully, companies should take one step at a time, create momentum, and realize quick early wins. Top priority should be given to crucial initiatives that promise immediate payoff—without hindering bolder moves or investments in cutting-edge technologies.

Know the players. Managing both internal and external stakeholders is crucial. Everyone from staff to leadership to regulators must understand the vision and the road map, as well as the benefits the transformation will bring, if they are to understand why change is necessary. Incumbents need to become competitive parcel players if they are to sustain the core business and deliver universal services in the most economical way.

By Patrick Briest, Julian Dragendorf, Tim Ecker, Detlev Mohr, and Florian Neuhaus

Full link: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/travel-transport-and-logistics/our-insights/the-endgame-for-postal-networks-how-to-win-in-the-age-of-e-commerce?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck&hlkid=d2f6bb93fbe748458181f170d821a386&hctky=2618809&hdpid=ee659e22-fbc8-431b-9767-506759795edc

Collection – ROCKEFELLER POLL FINDS HUNGER TO BE MOST SOLVABLE SDG

A few weeks ago, our friends at The Rockefeller Foundation kicked off their #SolvableSDG campaign to mark the end of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The goal of this campaign was to poll the Rockefeller community and ask them to vote for the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) they believed to be the most solvable in their lifetime.

According to their results, more than 13,000 people from 164 countries voted in the poll, and 20% of voters identified as being most optimistic about achieving zero hunger – the highest percentage of any other category. Voters were also optimistic about eliminating poverty (17%), followed by ensuring access to affordable and clean energy (15%).

At The World Food Bank, we could not be more encouraged by the findings of this poll, as our model works concretely on all three of these goals. We know that ending hunger is possible in our lifetime, and that’s why we do what we do. Through our model, we strive to solve for the issue of hunger, addressing poverty and climate change along the way.

We thank The Rockefeller Foundation for their great work highlighting this issue, and we ask you all to stay tuned for our upcoming announcement around our latest initiative, the Zero Hunger Formula.

World Food Bank™

Full link: https://worldfoodbank.org/rockefeller-poll-finds-hunger-to-be-most-solvable-sdg/

Landscape – Europe’s search for a China strategy

China’s rise and its geopolitical ambitions have started to manifest more clearly inside Europe, making the need for a China strategy ever more compelling. European unity is key to effectively addressing the challenges posed by Beijing. After years of closer trade and investment ties, the European Union is realising that close economic relations with China have brought about political and security challenges it was not prepared for.

French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hold a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, 26 March 2019 (Photo: Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters).

This newfound awareness is visible in the EU’s latest attempts to protect its strategic sectors and critical infrastructure. This includes the adoption of an EU framework for foreign investment screening and the issuing of guidelines for the security of Europe’s 5G networks.

The European Union has come to appreciate that it needs a strategy for China as, far from being solely an economic player, China is a rising political and security actor with geopolitical ambitions. This was evident in the European Commission’s ‘strategic outlook’ of March 2019, which informed EU leaders’ more assertive tone at the subsequent EU–China Summit in April 2019. Many observers have noticed Brussels’ unprecedented labelling of China as a ‘systemic rival’ and ‘economic competitor’. Less emphasis has been put on the European Union’s acknowledgment that China’s geopolitical goals ‘present security issues for the EU, already in a short- to mid-term perspective’. According to the strategic document, these are visible in China’s increasing military and technological advances and cross-sectoral hybrid threats such as information operations and large military exercises.

Addressing the challenges posed by Beijing requires European unity, as no member state alone has the resources and negotiating power necessary to deal with China on an equal footing. Paris and Berlin have demonstrated support for Brussels’ call for a ‘whole-of-EU’ approach vis-a-vis China, at least symbolically.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to France in March 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron invited European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to join his meeting with the Chinese leader. The German government also announced its intention to invite all member states to a 2020 EU–China Summit under its EU Presidency. This move raised eyebrows in Brussels, but Berlin hopes to encourage other members to pursue a common approach to China and refrain from Beijing-led ‘multi-bilateral’ talks.

However, governing elites in some European Union member states look at China through the prism of economic opportunity, downplaying the risks. They believe that close political ties with Beijing are key to unlocking greater economic opportunities, which cripples the EU’s efforts to devise a common strategy.

This approach is based on the naive assumption that politically cosying up to the Chinese leadership fosters a special relationship that translates into privileged economic treatment. Such an approach also assumes that a bilateral partnership on equal terms with China is possible. It disregards the fact that the Chinese government can retaliate any time, should it consider it necessary for its own agenda, regardless of whether memoranda, ‘strategic partnerships’ or any other agreements have been signed.

Lately, attempts to devise a coherent EU approach to China have not only hit a wall in Europe’s eastern flank — with the Chinese-led 16+1 grouping of Central and Eastern European countries expanding to 17+1 after welcoming Greece — but also at its core. In March 2019 Xi spent four days in Italy, where the country became the first EU founder and G7 state to officially endorse the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This is telling of a broader trend in which Europe criticises the growth of China’s global infrastructure scheme, and demands that the Initiative meet transparency and sustainability standards, while at the same time various European governments endorse the BRI.

Against this backdrop, how can the European Union ensure that its members look to China from a more long-term strategic perspective and act cohesively? An essential step is to close the knowledge and perception gaps across the continent. While it is up to national governments to increase their own countries’ expertise on China, the European Union can lead in driving debates about China’s rise and the implications for Europe. This would benefit those states where information about China is currently largely funded or driven by Beijing.

Democracies in China’s wider neighbourhood — like Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan — have been at the forefront of dealing with China’s systemic challenge. Exchanging notes with these partners would provide European countries with useful information on Chinese activities and response measures to adopt.

The recent 5G recommendations and the new investment screening mechanism show that a few concerted steps have been taken since 2016, when it became more visible that China’s influence was impacting European cohesion vis-a-vis Beijing. Allegedly, members of the China-led 16+1 grouping of Central and Eastern European countries also better coordinated their positions with Brussels in preparation for the latest Summit in Croatia.

The reshuffling of EU institutions that will result from the European Parliament elections raises questions over how Brussels will reshape current efforts into a more coherent and strategic approach towards China going forward. Beijing will likely try to use the opportunity offered by the upcoming changes in the EU administration to advance its interests. Securing European interests vis-a-vis China through a long-term common strategy is increasingly a necessity.

Author: Lucrezia Poggetti

Full link: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2019/05/31/europes-search-for-a-china-strategy/

Landscape – The United States is past engaging with China

The executive order by US President Donald Trump blocking Chinese tech giant Huawei from the United States is an aggressive unilateral step under the guise of national security. It deals another blow to China as a potential strategic technology competitor to the United States and follows in the wake of the 25 per cent US tariff on a broad swathe of Chinese goods.

This is more than a resetting of the trade relationship between China and the United States. US policymakers have sought to engage and integrate China into the global economy via global trade rules and institutions since the 1980s.

Past US administrations based their China policies on the assumption that China’s economy will move to a more liberal market order via institutional adjustments imposed through global rules. These strategies led to a complex and intertwined relationship between the United States and China. The changes signalled by Trump’s executive order reflect a post-engagement policy supported by the US security community. A significant element of this post-engagement policy is the overt disregard for the WTO rules which have been a US political project since the Cold War.

A key element of this post-engagement policy is the the reconfiguration of security and economics within both trade and strategic policy. The integration of China into the economic order was originally premised on the primacy of a US-based security order in the Asia Pacific. This has been challenged on two fronts. One is the emergence of Chinese political and economic projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative, seen as a challenge to US dominance. The other is the strategic assertiveness of the Chinese military, particularly in the South China Sea.

These Chinese economic–political projects are rooted in distinctive patterns of Chinese capitalist transformation and internationalisation. The United States is now competing by implementing its own political projects on infrastructure, connectivity and trade, with US security agencies combining to promote those particular forms of economic integration that are directly linked to security interests.

The policies of the Trump administration are a response to the domestic political failures of using engagement strategies to manage the various ups and downs of the US–China relationship, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its security counterpart, the ‘Pivot to Asia’. The policies overturn the instruments through which previous strategies of engagement were conceived and executed. The reconfiguration of the relationship between economics and security is at the core of this post-engagement management. This relationship has always been shaped by domestic US politics.

The recent executive order is emblematic of this post-engagement strategy, reshaping the US–China relationship by eschewing the use of international legal rules. The new strategy is in favour of the unilateral use of coercive domestic-based policy instruments such as sanctions, the use of the ‘national security’ doctrine and mobilising US financial and technological regulatory standards.

A striking illustration of this new coercive unilateral trade strategy is Canada’s arrest (under a US extradition request) of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, supposedly over Huawei violating international sanctions regimes. But the arrest also has clear political motivation to pressure Huawei, a form of economic lawfare. It led to the arrest by China of a former Canadian diplomat on patently false charges in retaliation.

There is a striking parallel to today’s measures. In the 1970s, the United States used legislative instruments to force Japan into voluntary restraints on its exports. Current US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was then the deputy representative under Reagan, having helped devise the export restraint regime against Japan.

It is as an outcome of this political crisis that the WTO project in the 1990s was used as an effort to institutionalise multilateral mechanisms to enforce trade rules through strategies of legalisation. This created more intrusive trade and regulatory rules, such as those in intellectual property rights. Together with the opening of financial markets and the expanded international role of the Federal Reserve, the institutional architecture of global finance and trade changed fundamentally. The combined development of Chinese and US capitalism created its own patterns of uneven development that laid the ground for the political crisis that led to Trump’s presidency.

The China engagement policy needs to be situated within a US-led international market reform project that has both economic and security dimensions, keeping in mind that the United States has coercive policy instruments in its management of geopolitical and economic relationships.

The perception of a growing threat to the United States through a strategic technology competition is another challenge. Chinese policies that aim to outdo America’s technological capabilities are seen as a fundamental challenge to US dominance. The US government’s targeting of Huawei and strategic oversight of investments by Chinese-based technology companies in the United States, while ostensibly justified through citing ‘direct threats to national security’, also reflect anxiety over a potential technological competition with China. The ‘Made in China 2025’ industrial strategy to upgrade Chinese technological capacities is only adding fuel to the fire.

The turn towards coercive instruments signals a move away from the technocratic management of global trade rules. But rather than a move towards US economic nationalism, it reflects an authoritarian right-wing version of globalisation that has roots in domestic political crisis.  

Author: Kanishka Jayasuriya

Full link: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2019/05/30/the-united-states-is-past-engaging-with-china/

Deals – Vietnam’s ride-hailing firm BE partners VPBank to launch payments services

BE Group, the local rival of Grab and GOJEK in Vietnam, has launched its digital financial services in partnership with Vietnamese lender VPBank.

beFinancial will integrate VPBank’s services into the be app to become a platform that comprises ride-hailing, payments, loyalty and reward and other online financial services for drivers and local SMEs.

Earlier in March, DEALSTREETASIA reported that several board members of VPBank had invested in BE Group, with the aim to support the latest ride-sharing app to roll out financial services in competition with Southeast Asian decacorn Grab in the local market.

VPBank did not comment, while BE Group then declined the news.

Launched in December 2018, BE Group said its founding shareholders poured several hundred millions of US dollars in the firm, and VPBank was its strategic business partner.

Under the latest partnership, beFinancial will offer cashless payments to users for their rides, phone bills and in-store payment.

BE Group and VPBank will also issue a co-branded credit/debit card which will allow individual customers to enjoy loan benefits such as interest rate incentives and quick lending procedures.

Customers using the card will also be entitled to be app’s loyalty programmes and promotions such as cash-back.

Meanwhile, to enhance support to drivers, beFinancial will help them access VPBank’s services more easily, especially motorbike or car loans.

Thanks to the integration of BE Group’s technology and VPBank’s services, beFinancial will create payment management portals for businesses to help minimize paperwork and improve accuracy and transparency in transactions.

“beFinacial is one of BE Group’s commitments after the deployment of transport services. Therefore, the partnership with VPBank is expected to bring a quick, secure and optimal payment solution for individual consumers and corporate customers, as well as more benefits to the drivers so they can rest assured to concentrate on their work,” said BE Group’s CEO Tran Thanh Hai.

BE Group said it will develop more delivery services and electronic wallets moving forwards.

The ride-hailing app has had 4 million downloads, attracting about 30,000 drivers for an average of 200,000 trips every day. Its target is to have 100,000 drivers by the end of 2019.

VPBank is one of the fastest growing private commercial banks in Vietnam.

The International Finance Corporation is a shareholder in the lender following a $57-million convertible loan in 2017.

IFC  has also extended senior loans to VPBank in several chunks, aiming to boost access to financial services for local SMEs.

Vietnam’s fintech sector has seen a lot of action with Grab acquiring e-wallet Moca to develop its ecosystem in the country, and others such as MoMo and VNPay bagging large funding rounds.

By Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc

Full link: https://www.dealstreetasia.com/stories/vietnam-be-vpbank-financial-services-138124/?mc_cid=8b9b62be36&mc_eid=885b2254d8

Deals – Vietnam’s Vinalines acquires 75% stake in Quy Nhon seaport

Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) has acquired a 75 per cent stake in Quy Nhon seaport for VND 415 billion ($17.8 million), local media reported.

HNX-listed Vinalines bought back the stake in the seaport that had earlier had been sold to Hop Thanh Investment & Mineral JSC.

In 2013, Quy Nhon port was transformed into a joint stock company with a charter capital of more than VND 404 billion ($17.3 million).

Vinalines owned more than 75 per cent stake of the port while the remaining shareholders held 24.9 per cent.

Quy Nhon port is one of Vietnam’s important seaports with a storage system spanning 20,960 warehouses. In total, it covers an area of 306,568 sq m.

Vinalines in September conducted its initial public offering (IPO) on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX).

The Vietnamese government raised VND 54.35 billion ($2.33 million) from selling a 34.8 per cent stake in Vinalines, generating way lower than its lofty target of  $210 million.

Under the initial plan, Vinalines planned to offer 207 million shares, or a 14.8 per cent stake, to strategic investors.

The remaining shares were to be sold to employees of the company.

However, the firm did not find a suitable strategic investor even though SK Holdings, South Korea’s third-largest multilateral business conglomerate, had expressed interest.

The state still holds a 65 per cent stake in Vinalines after the IPO.

Vinalines posted net revenue of VND 2.76 trillion ($118 million) in the first quarter, down 10 per cent year-on-year.

By Quynh Nguyen

Full link: https://www.dealstreetasia.com/stories/vinalines-quy-nhon-138162/?mc_cid=8b9b62be36&mc_eid=885b2254d8

Note – Investopedia: Pullbacks & Stocks See-Saw Before Erasing Gains

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Credit: Reuters / Andres Stapff 

U.S. Markets Close Higher on Choppy Day

A choppy day for U.S. markets ended with all three of the major indexes slightly higher with one more day to go in May.

It is highly likely we will experience our first substantial pullback for stocks in 2019 once this month closes. To be sure, U.S. markets have rallied 25% from their 2018 year-end lows, so a 6% pullback, like the one we are experiencing, is not unusual or terribly frightening. If markets fall another 4-5%, we will be in correction territory, and then we can pull out the heartburn medicine.

Pullbacks and corrections are a normal part of market cycles. We need to expect them and build our portfolios so they can withstand the drawdowns while being prepared for the upswings. That’s what we’ve been teaching at Investopedia for the last 20 years. That’s why we are here.

Still, there is no denying that investor sentiment has clearly shifted this month. The derailing of the trade talks between the U.S. and China have a lot to do with that shift, but, as we have noted, there are other factors at play. Factors like slowing economic growth, declining corporate earnings, uncertainty in Europe, a  shifting Federal Reserve and an economic expansion that is ten years old and tiring.

We are seeing that manifest in market activity and among individual stocks. Only 5 of the Dow components are higher in May, and none of them are what we would consider to be industrial stocks.

Dow Leaders in May:

  • United Health
  • Merck
  • McDonalds
  • Travelers Insurance
  • Pfizer

chart courtesy www.koyfin.com

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The Biggest Dow Losers

The Dow’s biggest losers are the likely suspects – all of which are down more than 11% and have heavy exposure to the U.S.-China trade war:

  • Apple
  • Dow
  • Intel
  • 3M
  • Caterpillar

What Will June Bring?

The summer wind will come blowin’ in, as Frank Sinatra famously crooned, but given market history, June is not such a favorable month for markets. Ryan Detrick, the Sr. Market Strategist at LPL Financial, brings up these historical stats for reference:

  • When the S&P 500 has lost 5% in May (like it could in 2019), June’s performance has been weak. May has lost 5% or more only four other times in the past 50 years, and stocks subsequently fell more than 5% in June twice.
  • However, when the S&P 500 has been up more than 10% year-to-date heading into June (like it could in 2019), the S&P 500 has gained 9 of the past 12 times (going back 50 years), and has been higher 1.9% on average.

We are kind of in both camps right now. We had a blistering start to the year, and a 5-6% fade in May. But this is what history looks like, on a chart.

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Investors may be  Bracing for the Worst

The May swoon has brought out the bearishness in many investors. TheChicago Board of Options Exchange daily put to call ratio surged to its highest level in six months yesterday. The put to call ratio measures the amount of bearish to bullish bets for stock futures. The more pessimistic traders are, the more they will bet on future declines.

In addition, the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) Investor Sentiment Survey has more than 40% bears, the most all year. You can smell the bearishness like a campsite in Alberta.

courtesy AAII.com

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This is not necessarily a bad thing. We need to see more signs like this to know that a bottom may be forming. We are not predicting that one is, at this point – we never do – but traditionally, when investors are at their most bearish and fearful, markets swing the other way. It happens on the flip side as we well know.

Global Perspective

If we look around the world, global markets are holding up pretty well, even in countries where you would least expect it given political turmoil. Equity markets in Greece, Brazil, India, Argentina and Australia are all relatively strong. We’ve been writing about the threat of a potential recession these past days as forecasters have been beating that drum harder… but the strength of global markets belies that notion, at least for now. The U.S. has its own challenges, but healthy trading partners around the world make those a little easier to overcome, provided that they remain trading partners.

(Mea culpa… I incorrectly stated yesterday that a recession is generally considered to be 2 consecutive months of negative growth. It’s two quarters of negative growth, and one of our astute readers corrected me on that.)

Here’s a look at the biggest ETFs that track those countries markets, courtesy of Koyfin.

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We are in unpredictable times, to say the least. But, as investors, we need to make sure we have a plan that is in line with our goals, our risk appetite and that can stand pullbacks. That may sound obvious, but it’s one of the hardest things to do, especially in noisy times like these.

chart courtesy www.koyfin.com

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Keysight Technologies jumped today on record fiscal quarterly earnings results, beating expectations and announcing a share repurchase program of $500 million. Dollar General also popped today on quarterly earnings topping estimates. Total Systems Services and Global Payments both saw shares rise today, as they edge closer to a deal.

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Phillips-Van Heusen continued to fall today, a hangover from poor earnings reported yesterday. Kraft Heinz also continues to fall on analysts’ downgrades.

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Word of the Day

Supply Chain

Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports have been understood as a negotiating tactic, up to this point. But a year after Trump’s first tariff on $34billion worth of Chinese imports, businesses are starting to adjust to a trade war that doesn’t look to be ending soon. Companies have been looking to past the cost of tariffs on to consumers, and shifting their supply chains out of China. So, it might be a good day to brush up on your supply chain basics:

“A supply chain is a network between a company and its suppliers to produce and distribute a specific product to the final buyer. This network includes different activities, people, entities, information, and resources. The supply chain also represents the steps it takes to get the product or service from its original state to the customer.

Supply chains are developed by companies so they can reduce their costs and remain competitive in the business landscape.

Supply chain management is a crucial process because an optimized supply chain results in lower costs and a faster production cycle.”

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Credit: Reuters / Shannon Stapleton

Today in History

May 30th, 1969 – Sesame Street makes its debut. That makes today the children’s shows 50th anniversary. Michelle Obama was on the show today to join in the celebration.

Not exactly noteworthy on the timeline of financial events, but a lot of us learned to count and read with The Count and The Cookie Monster. If you’re interested in celebrating but aren’t sure how to, maybe check out these stamps the U.S. Postal Service will be selling starting June 19th.

Chart of the Day: Extended Crude Oil Plunge Weighs Heavily on Energy Stocks

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Crude oil futures fell around 4% on Thursday as U.S. crude oil inventories for last week remained higher than expected once again, and fears that escalating trade conflicts will threaten the global economy and demand for oil continued. This prolonged drop in oil prices that has been in place for more than a month has weighed heavily on oil and gas companies involved in the exploration and production of oil, including such companies as Hess (HES) and Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD).

On Thursday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that U.S. crude oil inventories fell by only around 300,000 barrels against previous estimates of a 900,000-barrel decline. And for the two prior weeks, the EIA reported large gains in stockpiles against expectations of declines. With supply consistently higher than expected for three straight weeks, crude oil prices have been under pressure of late.

Contributing to this pressure have been worries that an extensive trade war between the U.S. and China would weigh on global economic growth and demand for oil, especially in these two countries, the world’s largest oil consumers.

As shown on the chart, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures have fallen around 14% since the late-April highs. But for the companies that have exploration and production operations, as represented by the S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP), the collective fall in stock prices has been decidedly worse, more than -20% in around five weeks’ time. For an ETF, even in the volatile energy sector, a drop of this magnitude in such a short period of time is uncommon.

Where do crude oil and energy stocks go from here? Clearly, the previous uptrend recovery has been either severely interrupted or even reversed. With any continued pressure due to trade war fears and high crude inventories, oil futures and oil stock prices may have significantly more room for downside.

Major Moves

Stock traders made a valiant effort to keep prices above breakeven today, and succeeded by a narrow margin. Worries about trade, housing, and the near-term outlook pulled the rug out from under the earlier price rallies. The silver lining is many European traders were off for the day, that may have removed some support for bulls.

One group that I have been watching lately got some more bad news today that I believe applies to the outlook for the rest of the market. The apparel maker PVH Corp (PVH) dropped more than 14% as investors digested a weak earnings report. PVH’s issues weren’t just about the company’s performance. Some problems are likely systemic.

In the report, PVH’s management estimates that a rising dollar will remove $.10 per share from annual earnings. That may not sound like a lot when total earnings per share are still expected to be more than $10 per share, and that is how management attempted to spin the news.

However, what investors care about is not what your earnings are, but where they are going. The rate of growth in earnings is what drives demand for stock shares. Ultimately, profit growth is what drives cash flow, dividends, buybacks, and expansion. When evaluated from that perspective, the $.10 per share represents about 12% of expected growth, which is a big problem for shareholders.

I have found retail apparel stocks to be a good group to watch when I am concerned about macro-issues like a rising dollar, trade disputes, or weak consumer spending. PVH’s weakness is similar to many other stocks in the group. For example, despite their own stellar earnings report, Hanes Brands (HBI) has been declining since May 2nd and recently completed a large double top reversal pattern.

The same method I used in yesterday’s Chart Advisor to make a downside projection using fibonacci retracements can be applied to HBI’s double top as well. In this case, the stock reached the initial downside target today and could easily continue all the way to the traditional target for a double top near $14.31 per share.

Although not a perfect indicator, the retail apparel group has been a useful way to predict general short-term weakness in the market. I have found the opposite to also be true, if apparel stocks start to find a bottom in the short-term, that could be used as evidence that the bearish market is running out of steam.

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 S&P 500

The S&P 500 continued its breakout from the head and shoulders pattern I have already highlighted. As I mentioned in prior issues, the head and shoulders pattern is well known, but has a very poor track record for signaling large drops in the stock market. This sounds counterintuitive, but failed head and shoulders patterns (crossing back above the neckline without a major decline) have historically produced outsized bullish returns. There is no evidence yet that this head and shoulders pattern will fail, however, prior history makes me cautious about aggressive estimates to the downside.

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Risk Indicators – Waiting for Early Bullish Signs

The stochastics oscillator was developed by the technician, George Lane, in the 1950’s and is one of my favorites for identifying periods of oversold oroverbought market conditions. Lane recommended the oscillator as a tool for identifying short-term bullish and bearish divergences.

A divergence occurs when the price of an asset is forming higher highs or lower lows while the stochastics oscillator is forming lower highs when it is in an “overbought” condition or rising lows when it is in an “oversold” condition. A cross of the indicator’s signal line following the second peak or trough can be used to trigger a new trade.

I wanted to point this out because, while most short-term risk indicators still look weak, high yield bond ETFs are forming a small bullish divergence on the stochastics indicator. While this isn’t enough to take action, it is a positive sign worth watching. In my experience, high yield bonds often lead stock market rallies or declines by a few days. If the divergence completes, it could be a good opportunity to watch the market more closely for short-term bullish opportunities.

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Bottom Line – More Data Coming Next Week

At this point I don’t expect very much else to change investor sentiment this week as investors wait for new information to justify the next round of buying or selling. The release schedule for economic reports is busy next week, starting with manufacturing data on Monday and ending with the May labor report on Friday. These data points could be a catalyst for a shift one direction or the other in the market assuming there aren’t any big surprise changes in the status of the US/China trade war.

Note – Bloomberg: Maybe the economy won’t re-elect Trump after all

The Economy Can Cut Both Ways

No matter how low his approval rating has fallen, no matter how many different people are investigating him, President Donald Trump has always had a strong economy on his side. But that security blanket may be shrinking.

As pundits have noted recently, forecasting models based on economic growth point to a Trump re-election in 2020. These models were almost alone in predicting Trump’s election in 2016, writes Karl Smith. But he also notes some of the same economic trends that helped doom Hillary Clinton are setting up to worry Trump in 2020. The economy needn’t be in full-on recession to hurt the White House incumbent, Karl writes; it wasn’t quite there in 2016. If it’s just moving in the wrong direction, then voters may look for other options.

One theme that arguably elevated Trump in 2016 was the unfairness of the Great Recession’s recovery. A vote for Trump was a vote against elites and for the common man, or some such. But after two years with Trump in charge, data on financial-stress levels show the recovery is still uneven, writes Barry Ritholtz: Its benefits flow more to the wealthy than to the less-well-off, who are still saddled by debt and vulnerable to another downturn. Sounds like easy pickings for, say, Elizabeth Warren.

Trump could also ease up on the trade war, which doesn’t improve the economic outlook. An epiphany on immigration would also help; Matthew Winkler writes that states with high concentrations of immigrants (legal or otherwise) have done better economically under Trump. Two of the biggest such states are Florida and New York, Matt notes; stomping grounds of one notable employer of immigrants: the Trump Organization.

Talkin’ About Your Generation

The miserable economic recovery was particularly hard on millennials, notes Ramesh Ponnuru. We told this generation college was the ticket to wealth, so they took our advice, loaded up on student-loan debt and hit the job market … just in time for a mini-depression. And then we mocked them for eating avocado toast and killing malls or whatever. We also criticize them for living in expensive cities, but Ramesh points out we keep cramming all the good jobs in those cities while not building new housing in them. No wonder millennials aren’t having babies.

This may not comfort the millennials much, but falling birth rates mean Generation Z, at least, will have an easier time getting into college, writes Justin Fox. Elite colleges will still be in high demand, but maybe other colleges won’t keep skyrocketing in price.

Battlefield Rare Earth

Yesterday, many patriots were in an uproar over news China might squeeze exports of rare-earth minerals to strike back at America in the trade war. You’ll pry my lanthanum from my cold, dead hands, China! But David Fickling suggests this threat is not exactly a nuclear option; the U.S. has other rare-earth sources, including right here at home. China’s last attempt at weaponizing rare earths, against Japan in 2010, backfired when China lost market share it never fully regained.

Time to Rethink This Whole T-Mobile-Sprint Thing

Mid-sized wireless providers T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. are trying to merge into a behemoth to rival Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. This would hurt consumers, Tara Lachapelle has written, and the Justice Department apparently agrees. It wants the two to shed some assets and mash them together into a new competitor, named like T-Mobisn’t or Leftovers Wireless or something. Somewhat unbelievably, the companies are apparently considering this. In a new column, Tara writes that letting a new competitor into the game would not only defeat the whole purpose of the merger, it would leave T-Mobile and Sprint worse-off than they were before.

Telltale Charts

On its 10th birthday, the oft-mocked Bing is not only still around but has turned into a decent little business for Microsoft Corp., Shira Ovidewrites.

Energy is now a smaller part of the S&P 500 than it’s been in at least 30 years; and oil companies have only themselves to blame, Liam Denningwrites.